THE BULL OF MINOS
By the same author:
ALL MEN ARE NEIGHBOURS
THE LOST PHAROAHS
LIFE UNDER THE PHAROAHS
ONE MAN'S JOURNEY
THE MOUNTAINS OF PHAROAH
THE ANVIL OF CIVILISATION
SEEING ROMAN BRITAIN
THE BULL OF MINOS
BULL OF MINOS
by Leonard Cottrell .
Professor Alan Wace
M.A., L1TT.D., F.B.A., F.S.A.J
Professor of Classics and Archaeology,
Farouk I University of Alexandria,
Rinehart ir Company, Inc.
First Published in the United States in 2958
Copyright, 1953, by Evans Brothers Limited
Copyright 1958 by Evans Brothers Limited
Printed in the United States of America
All rights reserved
Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 58-11633
Grateful acknowledgment is expressed to the following agents, authors and
publishers for permission to reprint copyrighted material from their publi-
ANTIQUITY, London, England, for brief extracts from "Greek Records in
the Minoan Script," by Michael Ventris and Alan Wace, which first ap-
peared in the December 1953 issue of Antiquity.
THE CLARENDON PRESS, Oxford, England, for a brief quotation from
THE RISE OF THE CREEK EPIC, by Professor G. Murray.
J. M, DENT & SONS LTD., London, England, for brief Quotations from
HISTORY OF GREECE, by George Grote (published in the Everyman's
Library in the U. S. A. by E. P. Dutton & Co., Inc.).
HARVARD UNIVERSITY PRESS, Cambridge, Massachusetts, for brief
extracts from APOLLODORUS, by Sir J. G. Frazer, published in the Loeb
W. D. HOGARTH, London, England, for a brief extract from an article by
D. G. Hogarth, which appeared in the Monthly Review, Jan.-March 1901,
FRANZ HORCH ASSOCIATES, New York, N. Y., MRS. EMIL LUDWIG,
and LITTLE, BROWN & COMPANY, Boston, Massachusetts, for brief
extracts from SCHLIEMANN OF TROY, by Emil Ludwig.
THE LONDON ELECTROTYPE AGENCY LTD., London, England, for a
short quotation from the article, "Overlords of Mycenae Before the Days
of Agamemnon," by Dr. J. Papadimitriou, which was first published in
the September 27, 1952 issue of The Illustrated London News.
LONGMANS, GREEN & CO., INC., New York, N. Y., for brief extracts
from TIME AND CHANCE, by Joan Evans.
MACMILLAN & CO., LTD., London, England, and ST. MARTIN'S PRESS,
INC., New York, N. Y., for illustrations and short quotations from THE
PALACE OF MINOS, bv Sir Arthur Evan^ r and brief excerpts from HISTORY
OF GREECE, by J. JB. uury.
METHUEN & CO., LTD., London, England, for an extract from THE
ARCHAEOLOGY OF CRETE, by John Pendlebury.
THE NEW YORK TIMES, New York, N. Y., for a brief quotation from an
article which first appeared in The Times of London on August 10, 1900.
PENGUIN BOOKS LTD., Middlesex, England, for extracts from E. V.
Rieu's translation of Homer.
SOCIETY FOR THE PROMOTION OF HELLENIC STUDIES, London,
England, for illustrations and brief quotations from the article, "Evidence
for Greek Dialect in the Mycenaean Archives/' by Michael Ventris and
John Chadwick, as first published in the Journal of Hellenic Studies, and
quotations from the Obituary Notice on Sir Arthur Evans published by the
To my friend
PREFACE TO THE SECOND EDITION
THIS book was planned in 1951, written in 1952 and 1953 and
published at the end of that year. While it was in the press, there
were several remarkable developments in Aegean archaeology
which it was not possible to include in the former edition except
in the form of a brief Appendix. These were the discovery at
Mycenae of an entirely "new" Grave Circle containing rich treas-
ures of Mycenaean art; other noteworthy finds by the late Pro-
fessor Wace in the area beyond the walls of the Citadel; and last,
but not least, the partial decipherment of the Minoan/Mycenaean
"Linear B" script by Michael Ventris.
I have taken the opportunity of bringing the book up to date
by the addition of two Appendices, and making sundry revisions
in the rest of the text. At the same time the body of the book re-
mains much the same, based as it was on a visit I made to Greece
and Crete in the Spring of 1951. The new discoveries, though they
have opened up new and exciting vistas, do not affect the histori-
cal part of the narrative; in fact it is impossible properly to ap-
preciate the significance of the new developments until one has
studied the conclusions reached by Schliemann and Evans.
It remains for me to express my gratitude to the authors
whose works form the principal basis of this book.
Any author attempting to write a book on the rise of the
Minoan civilization must inevitably draw deeply from Sir Arthur
Evans's great work, The Palace of Minos. My chief debt of
gratitude is, therefore, to Sir Arthur's literary executors, to the
Clarendon Press and to Messrs. Macmillan, for allowing me not
only to quote from the book, but also to reproduce some of the
unique illustrations of Minoan culture in which it is so rich.
I am also grateful to the British Broadcasting Corporation,
who made it possible for me to visit Greece and Crete in connec-
tion with my radio documentary programs on Heinrich Schlie-
mann and Sir Arthur Evans.
I would also like to express my gratitude for the help given by
the late Professor Alan Wace, who kindly read my manuscript,
X PREFACE TO THE SECOND EDITION
for his valuable suggestions and for writing the Introduction.
Among the many literary sources listed in the Bibliography
at the end of this book, I gained special pleasure and benefit from
Emil Ludwig's life of Schliemann, from Schliemann's own works
especially Ilios, with its fascinating autobiographical details
and the works of Schuchhardt, Dorpfeld, and Karo.
For the personal background to Sir Arthur Evans's life the
most complete and authoritative source is Time and Chance,
written by his half sister, Dr. Joan Evans, and published towards
the end of the Second World War. The late Sir John Myres was
kind enough to welcome me to his Oxford home, and gave me a
first-hand impression of his lifelong friend such as I could never
obtain from the printed word alone.
Next to The Palace of Minos, John Pendlebury's Archaeol-
ogy of Crete remains the most complete and readable survey
of the prehistoric civilization of Crete. I was first brought into
contact with Pendlebury's work by H. W. Fairman, Professor of
Egyptology at the University of Liverpool, who had dug with
Pendlebury on the site of Akhnaten's city of Tell-el-Amarna, in
Egypt. After visiting Tell-el-Amarna myself in 1947, it became
my ambition to visit Knossos, where Pendlebury was Curator
for a number of years. When I realized that ambition and studied
the Palace of Minos with Pendlebury's Guide in my hand, it was
with some sadness, for the young scholar, who loved the Cretan
people, had been one of the leaders of the Cretan Resistance and
had died in the struggle. Had he lived, he might have become a
worthy successor to Evans, who liked and respected him.
Since these lines were written, I have sadly to record the
death of another friend and helper, Michael Ventris, whose bril-
liant decipherment of the Minoan "Linear B" script has been truly
described as "the Everest of Greek Archaeology."
Special thanks are also due to the staff of the British School
at Athens, who helped to arrange my visit to Knossos, and to the
London Staff of the School, especially its able Secretary, Miss
Edith Clay. I am also particularly grateful for the professional
guidance of Dr. Frank Stubbings, University Lecturer in Classics
With two exceptions, all the quotations from the Iliad and
PREFACE TO THE SECOND EDITION Xi
the Odyssey are from the translation by Mr. E. V. Rieu, published
in the Penguin series.
Finally, I wish to thank Mr. and Mrs. Ket de Jong for their
help and hospitality. Piet. de Jong was the last British Curator
of Knossos before it was handed over, with the Villa Ariadne, to
the Greek authorities in 1952. He had been appointed by Sir
Arthur Evans as his architect in 1922; but the hard, self-denying
work which de Jong and his wife carried out to efface the results
of wartime neglect of the Palace and its estate was not the least
of his achievements. Had Sir Arthur himself lived, he would have
been the first to congratulate his former architect. May I, there-
fore, as a disinterested outside observer, record the fact that
when the Palace of Minos was finally handed over to Greece, its
sound condition, and that of the Villa Ariadne and its accom-
panying estate, was largely due to this modest Yorkshireman and
his wife, who had to cope with postwar difficulties which Sir
Arthur was happily spared.
PREFACE TO THE
ALTHOUGH I have made certain alterations and additions, the
present edition is substantially that published in Britain, Germany,
France and Italy during the past three years. The Appendices,
describing some of the most recent finds at Mycenae, and the late
Michael Ventris's decipherment of the Minoan "Linear B" script,
remain with but little alteration. They have been left in their
present position and not incorporated in the main body of the
text, since they describe discoveries made after the events of
which thif book is a record.
by PROFESSOR ALAN WAGE
ONE of the great discoveries of the last eighty-five years has been
the discovery of the civilization of prehistoric Greece; the Aegean
Civilization, as it is sometimes called. Before 1870 the history of
Greece began approximately with the First Olympiad in 776 B.C.
Everything before that date was legendary and mythical. The
age of Homer and Homer's heroes and their cities was also re-
garded as belonging to a kind of classical fairyland.
Now archaeological research has carried back the history of
Greece beyond the beginning of the third millennium* B.C. The
First Olympiad was not even at the opening of the Iron Age.
Greek history has been traced by archaeology back to the very
beginning of the Iron Age, back through the whole length of the
Bronze Age and back into the Neolithic Age, to the dawn of
This knowledge is the fruit of the work of many scholars of
many nations, but it is in the main due to the inspired research of
two men, Heinrich Schliemarm and Arthur Evans. The story of
their work reads like a romance, and a romance it really is. Schlie-
mann, the penniless errand boy who became a merchant prince,
from the echoes of his schooldays dreamt always of finding Troy
and proving that there was a solid base of history behind Homer.
He constantly said that he had discovered a new world for archae-
ology. He was not able in his lifetime to see the full extent of the
new world he had opened up, but his excavations at Troy, My-
cenae and Tiryns revealed an almost limitless field for research.
His collaborators and his followers gradually began to fill in the
details. Then, ten years after Schliemann's death, Evans, by his
excavations at Knossos, in Crete, unveiled another aspect of this
new world, an aspect of unexpected splendor. He had been led
to this by his conviction that a culture so brilliant as the Mycen-
aean could not have been dumb. He felt, he knew, that the
creators of the great prehistoric culture of Greece which Schlie-
mann had found, which shines in the Homeric poems, must have
been literate, must have been able to write and to read. Follow-
ing the great work of Evans at Knossos others have excavated in
Crete, and in recent years the Greek Mainland has again become
the center of interest, with renewed excavations at Tiryns and
Mycenae and with the discovery of the House of Cadmus at
Thebes and of the Palace of Nestor at Pylos, with a great number
of inscribed clay tablets. The summer of 1952 saw the excavation
of another circle of royal graves at Mycenae, a generation older
than the rich royal graves found by Schliemann in 1876, and the
discovery of inscribed tablets in a large private house, which
confirms yet again the correctness of Evans's conviction.
In former days first Troy and then Crete were treated as our
earliest sources for the history of Greece, but in view of the
excavations of the last thirty-five years on the Greek Mainland,
the solution of the problem of the Coming of the Greeks and
the dawn of Greek and European civilization must be sought on
the Mainland of Greece itself where, though many details await
elucidation, the main archaeological stratification is now clear.
The history of Greece begins with a Neolithic Age which ended
about 3000 B.C. This was succeeded by the Early Bronze Age,
when a bronze-using people akin to early inhabitants of Crete and
of the Cyclades entered Greece from its southeastern coasts. This
people apparently was not Indo-European and introduced into
Greece many place and plant names which end in -nthos, -ene,
-ssos. Places with such names are Korinthos, Mykene, Parnassos,
and plant names are terebinthos and kolokynthos, and there are
yet other names like labyrinthos and asaminthos. Not long after
2000 B.C., a new people entered Greece, who seem to have been
the first Greeks to enter Hellas. Whence they came we do not
know, but it is possible that they came by way of the Dardanelles.
Just as the Early Bronze Age people seem to have coalesced
with the Neolithic people, so this Middle Bronze Age people, the
first Greeks, also coalesced with the previous inhabitants. Thus,
by the end of the Middle Bronze Age soon after 1600 B.C., the
population of Greece was already a mixed race, although prob-
ably by the incoming of fresh drafts of Greek tribes the proportion
of Greek was steadily increased.
Between the Middle Bronze Age and the Late Bronze Age,
which began about 1580 B.C., there was no break, but merely a
steady evolution from one phase to another. The principal feature
which marks the beginning of the Late Bronze Age is the influence
which the Minoan civilization of Crete then exerted on the cul-
ture of the Mainland. During the Middle Bronze Age there seems
to have been little direct contact between the Mainland and Crete.
Gradually, towards the end of the Middle Bronze Age, the in-
fluence of Crete became stronger; and with the beginning of the
Late Bronze Age the culture of the Mainland had adapted and
adopted much of the Minoan culture. With the beginning of the
second phase of the Late Bronze Age ( Late Minoan II and Late
Helladic II, 1500-1400) the relations between Knossos, which
was then in its culture noticeably different from the rest of Crete,
and the Mainland seem to have been close. This must not be taken
to mean that Knossos colonized or exercised political domination
over the Mainland. It is true that there is much that is of Cretan
origin in the culture of the Mainland at this time, but there are
equally many elements in the culture of Knossos that are of Main-
land origin. The exact relationship which then prevailed between
Knossos and the Mainland remains for later investigation and
definition. With the last phase of the Late Bronze Age ( 1400 to
the latter part of the twelfth century B.C. ) Mycenae and the Main-
land succeeded to the leadership of the Aegean world, after the
destruction of the Palace of Minos at Knossos about 1400 B.C.
At the end of the twelfth century there was a transition from the
age of bronze to the age of iron, and this is marked by a gradual
change in the pottery. This is the time when the Dorians are said
traditionally to have entered Greece.
We must not assume that with the coming of the Dorians
there was a racial or a cultural change in Greece. The culture
of the Iron Age evolves naturally from that of the last phase of
the Bronze Age, and there is a fairly broad period of transition
from one to the other. Since we believe that there were Greeks
in Greece from the beginning of the Middle Bronze Age onwards,
it is misleading to assume, as some scholars do, that the history
and culture of Greece begin only with the Iron Age. The history
and culture of Greece were in a state of continual evolution from
the Neolithic Age onwards. From the opening of the Middle
Bronze Age the Greek race, the Hellenes, began to develop, and
it was a mixed race composed of the Neolithic people, the Early
Bronze Age people and the successive waves of Greek-speaking
peoples who began to enter Greece in the Middle Bronze Age.
This continuity of the development of Greece from the earliest
times is one of the many things we have learned by following in
the footsteps of Schliemann and Evans.
We see thus that, through the work of two inspired explorers,
at least two millennia have been added to the history of Greece;
and that our knowledge of the development of the Greek race, to
which our civilization owes so much, has been increased to an
extent far beyond our dreams.
In this book Mr. Cottrell tells the story of the two men re-
sponsible for this tremendous expansion of knowledge. One,
Schliemann, had never enjoyed any real education, but was self-
taught and self-trained. As an excavator he was a pioneer, for in
his day archaeological excavation was in its infancy.
Like many pioneers, Schliemann had to struggle against
much misrepresentation to obtain recognition for his great dis-
coveries. For a time he was almost a lone prophet crying in the
wilderness. Now the truth of his discoveries and their overwhelm-
ing importance are universally recognized and the feeble voices
of dissent can be rightly disregarded.
Evans had enjoyed the advantages of the usual English
public-school and Oxford education of his day and had also been
able to undertake advanced study at a German university. His
archaeological instincts came to him partly by inheritance from
his distinguished father and partly from his own exploring mind,
which ranged far and wide. Early in life he showed that he had
a remarkable talent for exploratory travel, but he had had no
training in excavation. Thus the work he carried out at Knossos
was the more remarkable. The results of it he was able to put
before the world, thanks to his education, wide learning and ex-
perience, in such a form that all could understand the importance
of his discoveries and appreciate their full implications.
All this Mr. Cottrell makes clear to the reader, and he has cast
it in the form of a romance, which it truly is. This form of learned
exploration is an adventure in itself, and its record should be
told in a corresponding manner. Let us hope that what Mr. Cot-
trell has written so attractively will inspire young men and
women of this and future generations to imitate these two great
men, Schliemann and Evans. They revealed a new world for
archaeology and for classical studies, but if much has been
learned, much still remains to be learned. The recent decipher-
ment of the inscribed clay tablets written in the script called
"Linear B" has proved that the language was an early form of
Greek. This brilliant achievement, due mainly to the late Michael
Ventris, has unveiled for us an entirely new aspect of the Mino-
Mycenaean world and of the beginnings of Greek and of the
Greeks, to whose genius the whole of mankind is eternally in-
debted. The greatest representative of that genius is Homer, the
supreme poet of the world, whose immortal poems shine with
even stronger brilliance in the light of the really epoch-making
achievements of Schliemann and of Evans.
PREFACE TO THE SECOND EDITION ix
PREFACE TO THE AMERICAN EDITION Xii
I Homer and the Historians 8
ii Schliemann the Romantic 20
1 1 1 The "Treasure of Priam" 30
iv "Golden Mycenae" 42
v Pause for Reflection 56
v i "Here Begins an Entirely New Science" 69
vii The Quest Continues 82
vin Prelude to Crete 91
I x Island of Legend 102
x A Challenge Accepted 110
xi The Birth Cave of Zeus 120
x 1 1 "And Still the Wonder Grew" 123
xiii Into the Labyrinth 131
xiv The Villa Ariadne 141
x v The Palace of the Sea Kings 155
xvi "The Old Traditions Were True" 169
Appendix "A:" MYCENAE'S SECOND GLORY 196
Appendix "B;" THE "EVEREST" OF GREEK ARCHAEOLOGY 210
THE BULL OF MINOS
Furthermore, after he (Theseus) was arrived in Crete,
he slew there the Minotaur (as the most part of ancient
authors do write) by the means and help of Ariadne; who
being fallen in fancy with him, did give him a clue of
thread, by the help whereof she taught him, how he might
easily wind out of the turnings and cranks of the Labyrinth.
PLUTARCH (North's translation)
I LEFT Athens at midday in the Automatrice, a reasonably fast
Diesel train, which trundled along for four hours beside the sun-
glittering Gulf of Salamis, through pale green valleys hemmed in
by low, treeless hills of grey limestone, past dust-grey villages set
among the dark spearlike cypresses. The light was white and in-
tense, the magical light of Hellas, which shadows impartially the
fluting of a Doric column or the hard lines of a peasant's face. We
passed Megara, near which the hero Jason kicked the giant
Sciron into the sea (where he turned into a tortoise), and then,
after miles of gnarled olive trees, slowed and stopped at New
I had over an hour to wait at the squalid railway station,
which seemed designed to destroy all romantic preconceptions of
Greece. On the dirty, paper-littered platform sat sad-eyed women
in drab, shapeless clothes, and a few listless men, cloth-capped
and collarless. Among them was a sullen youth with a strained,
handsome face, who looked older than his years. He had lost a
leg in the Civil War and hobbled painfully on crutches. A few
meagre-looking fowl pecked between the tracks, and a small
ragged boy moved along the platform with a trayful of "souflakia"
fragments of meat on wooden skewers but he had few cus-
So this was Greece. It served me right for my selfish pre-
occupation with the past. What else had I any right to expect
in postwar Greece? Invaded in turn by Italians and Germans,
then, when other countries had gained peace, subjected to a
bitter Civil War, Greece was now impoverished and exhausted.
Was this a time for half-baked romantics to come poking about
among her ruins? So I reproached myself, wishing either that
I could have visited the country in happier times, or that I had
the temperament of a contemporary reporter who could apply
himself fearlessly and frankly to her present-day problems.
Another train took me southward again, crawling slowly
round the skirts of the two-thousand-foot mountain on which
stands the Acrocorinthus. Dramatically it rose from the darkening
plain, a dome of limestone capped by the ruins of the Temple of
Athena, and the citadel from which the ancient Corinthians com-
manded the Isthmus. By the time its black silhouette had passed
out of view, the sun had set, and only an occasional cluster of
lights revealed a village among the folded hills. My fellow pas-
sengers were mostly peasants, the women usually in black, with
head scarves, and laden baskets resting on their broad laps. They
chatted, but the suntanned men usually sat silent. Occasionally a
pipe would be removed from beneath a curled moustache; a brief
remark would accompany a flash of strong white teeth; then the
pipe would be replaced, the arms folded, and dark eyes beneath
round black turbans would resume their detached but unhostile
contemplation of the stranger.
As I watched them, my spirits rose a little. In fact, so fas-
cinating were those grave, contemplative faces that I almost
forgot to get out at my destination. Glancing up when the train
had been halted for nearly a minute, I happened to see a station
name board in the yellow light of an oil lamp. It was Mycenae.
Even as I snatched my bag from the rack and scrambled out of
the carriage, the absurdity of the situation struck me. To see the
name of Agamemnon's proud citadel, Homer's "Mycenae, rich in
gold," the scene of Aeschylus's epic tragedy, stuck on a station
platform, was too bizarre. And yet there it was. And there was I,
the sole occupant of the platform, watching the red rear light of
the little train as it slowly receded into the night.
A full moon was rising, and the groves of olive trees rustled
gently in the night wind, which brought with it the faint scent of
thyme. I looked around for the car which my friends in Athens
had told me might be waiting to take me to the village inn at
Charvati, two miles away. It was not there. So, hitching my bag
on my shoulder, I set off along the straight, olive-bordered lane
towards the hills which showed clearly in the moonlight. As I
walked I felt happier. Without knowing why, I began to believe
that Mycenae would not disappoint me.
A few lights gleamed through the trees ahead. Some way
off a dog barked and another answered. The hills were quite
close now, and I could see the scattered houses of the village
clustered on the lower slopes. The houses lay on the left of the
road. On the right the plain of Argos stretched open to the sea,
which, although I could not see it, I knew was only a few miles
away. The inn, I had been told, was by the roadside, set back
behind a break in the trees. Could this be it, this small, dark,
flat-fronted building without a light showing? Yes, there was the
sign, hung from a tree by the roadside. I shone my torch and
read, "La Belle H^lene de Menelaiis."
If it had adorned a large, neon-lit hotel with a car park and
a gold-braided porter, the inn's sign would have seemed smart
aleck and vulgar; but not as it was, hung in front of this unpre-
tending house in an unpretending village, I knocked, waited,
knocked again; but the house seemed deserted. There was no
sound within, and not a light showed. The dog barked again, a
long way off. The oleanders stirred in the slight breeze, and again
came that faint, fresh smell of thyme. I felt curiously elated and
expectant, not at all cast down by this apparent indifference to
my arrival. My Athenian hosts had warned me that, although they
had sent a telegram to the proprietor of the inn, there was no
certainty that it would arrive.
Then came a light step crossing the hall; the door opened,
and there emerged, first a slim white arm holding aloft an oil
lamp, then the owner of the arm. She was about twenty-three,
fair-skinned, with a wide, firm mouth; strong, rounded chin; and
deep, dark eyes under a smooth brow. She stood for a moment
on the top step, looking down at me. Her dress was that of a
peasant, a simple cream-colored frock with a scarlet jacket care-
lessly thrown over it, but her face was like one of the sculptured
maidens of the porch of the Erechtheum on the Athenian. Acrop-
olis. It was too absurdly romantic the plain of Argos Helen of
Troy had been called "Argive Helen" the name on the inn sign,
the Homeric setting.
In the inn there were two men, and an older woman who
seemed to be the mother of the girl who had admitted me. Evi-
dently the telegram had not come and my arrival had taken them
unawares, but now, recovering from their surprise, they bustled
about the house, up and down the stairs, in and out of dining
room and kitchen, eager to make me comfortable. The older of
the two men, tall, lean and dark, with stubble on his long chin,
appeared to be in charge. As he shouted orders, lamps were
brought into the stone-flagged dining room, the girl spread a
cloth and laid the table, while her mother hurried upstairs to
prepare my bed. The other man, who seemed to be the brother of
the first, then entered carrying a three-legged shallow brazier
filled with glowing coals. This he placed beneath the table so
that I might warm my feet. As the brazier carrier was hurrying
out again, his brother caught him by the arm and, pointing to
him, said to me, "Orestes!" And then, indicating himself, he
We all bowed and smiled. I did not dare inquire the name
of the girl. It would have been too disappointing if she had not
been named Helen or Andromache. Now she entered again, bear-
ing my meal a superb omelette, a fine cheese and a bottle of
pale golden wine the familiar resin-flavored retzina which is
drunk all over Greece.
Dinner over, I wandered around the room, examining the
photographs on the walls: pictures of the citadel of Mycenae,
with its Lion Gate, its Cyclopean walls and the huge beehive-
shaped "tholos" tombs which I had studied so often in weighty
volumes at home. To think that these glories lay only a mile away
in the dark hills, awaiting exploration tomorrow, filled me with
excitement. On a table lay a copy of Professor Wace's book on
Mycenae, with his written greetings to my cheerful hosts. Wace,
they had told me in Athens, had stayed here during the previous
year while superintending his latest "dig" at Mycenae.
While turning Wace's pages I found Agamemnon, my host,
standing at my elbow with the inn's Visitors' Book. He held it
under the light, pointing with a brown finger at an entry on a
page dated 1942. It was a foreign signature, difficult to read at
first. Then, with a start, I recognized it Hermann Goering. My
host flicked the pages and pointed to another signature Hein-
rich Himmler. Somewhat shaken, I took the book from his hand,
sat down and carefully read through the names entered during
the early years of the war. I also found Goebbels, together with
many scores of officers and men of Panzerdivizionen, from gen-
erals to privates.
What had attracted the Nazi chiefs and so many German
soldiers to this spot? They had come to pay tribute to the memory
of Heinrich Schliemann. Eighty years ago that great German
archaeologist had come here after his triumphs at Troy, and dug
from beneath the citadel treasures which proved that Homer's
"golden Mycenae" had been aptly named. Schliemann had died
more than sixty years ago, yet his influence was still felt. Was
it not a habit of Schliemann to call his workmen by Homeric
names, and often to stand godfather to their children? No doubt
the Agamemnon who stood watching me now had been so spon-
For a time I lay awake, reading Wace's book by candlelight,
and listening to the faint sound of the night wind, and the oc-
casional croak of a frog. When I snuffed the candle, I was too
excited to sleep. Again and again my thoughts kept returning to
the parson's son from Mecklenburg who believed in the literal
truth of Homer; the self-made merchant turned archaeologist
whose instinct proved more accurate than the learning of
scholars; that exasperating, bewildering, yet likable mixture of
shrewdness and naivety Doctor Heinrich Schliemann. From
Schliemann my thoughts turned to Homer, the poet whom he
idolized and by whom he was led to make those discoveries
which set up such a fluttering in the academic dovecotes.
But before we can understand what Schliemann did to the
historians, it is necessary to know something of the academic
world into which the eccentric German erupted. To that world,
and its view of Homer, I devote my first chapter.
HOMER AND THE HISTORIANS
I AM going to assume that not all readers of this book will be
specialists in Greek epic poetry or the prehistoric civilizations of
the Aegean. Many, perhaps, will be in that vague but happy state
of half knowledge which I enjoyed before I was drawn down
into the vortices of Homeric research. This is, they may know
their Homer, either in the original or in one of those excellent
modern translations (such as that made by Mr. E. V. Rieu and
published in the Penguin series); they may have a working
knowledge of Greek classical history and may recall that at some
time in the last century someone dug up "Homer's Troy" and
"Homer's Mycenae" and thus proved to everyone's delight that
the Iliad and the Odyssey were "true." If only the facts were as
simple as thatl But, alas, they aren't.
On the other hand, even readers who have not yet read the
great epic poet of Greece will be familiar with the stories, be
they history or legend, which Homer wove into his poems. They
will have heard how the Trojan Prince, Paris, stole the lovely
Helen from her husband, Menelaiis of Sparta; of how Menelaiis
and his brother Agamemnon, "King of Men," led the Achaean
host to Troy and laid siege to it for ten years. The wrath of
Achilles; the slaying of the Trojan hero, Hector; the stratagem
of the Wooden Horse, planned by the cunning Odysseus, which
led to the sack of Priam's city; the long return home of the much-
enduring Odysseus, the Wanderer; all these are part of Europe's
rich heritage of legend. In England alone poets from Chaucer to
Louis MacNeice have drawn upon the Homeric themes and char-
acters, as no doubt will writers yet unborn. For Homer, father of
European literature, has entered to some extent into the thought
and speech of every one of us, even those who have never con-
sciously read a line by him.
HOMER AND THE HISTORIANS 9
Less than a hundred years ago the only knowledge if it
could be called such- of the early history of Greece was that ob-
tainable from Greek mythology, and especially from the great
epic poems of Homer, the Iliad and the Odyssey. Practically
everything before about 800 B.C. was regarded as legend. The
historian George Grote, whose monumental History of Greece
was published in 1846, could write in his Preface:
... I begin the real history of Greece with the first recorded
Olympiad, or 776 B.C. . . . For the truth is, that historical records,
properly so called, do not begin until after this date; nor will any man
who candidly considers the extreme paucity of attested facts for two
centuries after 776 B.C. be astonished to learn that the state of Greece
in 900, 1000, 1100, 1200, 1300, 1400 B.C., etc. or any earlier century
which it may please chronologists to include in their computed gene-
alogiescannot be described to him with anything like decent evi-
dence . . .
. . . The times which I thus set apart from the region of history
are discernible only through a different atmosphere that of epic
poetry and legend. To confound together these disparate matters, is,
in my judgement, essentially unphilosophical. , . .
Thus sternly wrote Mr. Grote, and justly, too, in the light
of what was known at that time. For though the classical Greeks
(600-300 B.C.) regarded much of their epics as literal history,
there was nothing in them which a modern historian would be
justified in regarding as evidence. True, the epics sometimes
described individuals who could have been credible historical
figures, whose actions often took place in a precise geographical
setting; yet they were so intermixed with obvious myths and
supernatural happenings as to make it almost impossible to
recognize where legend ended and reality began. For instance,
Odysseus, the Wanderer, during the earlier part of his journey
home from Troy, follows a route which can be traced, island by
island, on a modern map, and which proves Homer's knowledge
of Aegean topography. But after a while the Wanderer wanders
off the map into fairyland, to the island of Circe, to the home of
the hideous Lestrygonians and the land of the Cyclopes, even to
Hades itself, where only our imaginations can follow him.
Of course the Odyssey the "first novel of Europe" being
10 THE BULL OF MINOS
an obvious romance, might be expected to contain many elements
of fairy tale. But even the sterner Iliad, which tells of the siege
of Troy, and which the Greeks of classical times regarded as
authentic history, has its mythical ingredients. The gods take
sides in the war, appear to the heroes, and fight in both armies
though usually disguised as human warriors. Some of the heroes
are god-descended. Achilles is the son of Thetis, the sea nymph;
Helen is the daughter of Zeus himself. Xanthus, one of Achilles'
horses, has the power of human speech and warns his master of
his impending death. But admittedly these are subordinate ele-
ments in the story, which in the main is grimly and brilliantly
realistic, and could only have been written by one who was per-
sonally familiar with the Trojan Plain.
Who was this great poet, whose works were thought by the
classical Greeks to embody their early history? The historian
Herodotus (c. 484-425 B.C.) believed that Homer had lived
about four hundred years before his own time, that is, in about
the ninth century B.C., though later authorities placed his date
far back in the twelfth century (present-day opinion on the whole
favors Herodotus' date). No real stories of his life existed,
though many legends grew up around his name. Several places
compete for the honor of being his birthplace Smyrna, Argos,
Athens, Salamis, and Khios, but the last has the strongest claim.
Tradition is insistent that he was an "Ionian" Greek that is,
that he belonged to those Greeks who were driven out of the
mainland by the invading Dorians (circa 1000 B.C.) and founded
the Ionian colonies on the west coast of Asia Minor.
One fact is certain: that Homer, whether he created his epics
in the eighth, ninth, or tenth centuries before Christ, was making
use of much more ancient material a store of myths, legends and
folk tales which had come down to him from a remote past. We
also know that much of this epic material which Homer used
survived, side by side with the Homeric poems, into classical
times. This can be proved by the fact that several legends and
stories which Homer only glanced at were used by later poets and
dramatists as fully developed epics or plays. Historians call this
material, on which both Homer and later Greek poets drew, the
Although I would not dare attempt to summarize the whole
HOMER AND THE HISTORIANS 11
of the Iliad and the Odyssey, I think it might help those who
have not read these epics to describe briefly those episodes which
have a bearing on Schliemann's discoveries.
The * Iliad, which is generally supposed to be the earlier
poem, deals with an episode in the Trojan War the Wrath of
Achilles and its tragic consequences. Its opening is tremendous:
The Wrath of Achilles is my theme, that fatal wrath which, in ful-
filment of the will of Zeus, brought the Achaeans so much suffering
and sent the gallant souls of so many noblemen to Hades, leaving their
bodies as carrion for the dogs and passing birds. Let us begin, goddess
of song, with the angry parting that took place between Agamemnon
King of Men, and the great Achilles son of Peleus. . . .
Notice that Homer calls his Greeks "the Achaeans." This is
the name he most often uses to describe them, though occa-
sionally he calls them Danaans. Often they are described by the
name of the district or island from which they come, e.g., the
Locrians from Locris, the Arcadians "from the lands where
Mount Cyllene lifts its peak" and so on.
When the Iliad opens, the Achaeans are encamped beside
their ships on the edge of the Trojan Plain. Before them lies
King Priam's city of Troy, or Ilium, which they have unsuccess-
fully besieged for nine years. (Troy can easily be identified on a
modern map of Turkey. It lies on the coast of Asia Minor, near
the entrance to the Dardanelles.)
Agamemnon, "King of Men," is the leader of the Achaean
host. He is comparable to a feudal overlord of the Middle Ages,
exercising a loose suzerainty over his subordinate chiefs (though
they also are called kings), but not having complete authority.
In fact his authority is challenged in the very first book of the
Iliad, when Achilles, King of the Myrmidons, and the greatest
warrior in the Achaean host, heaps abuse on him for threatening
to take from Achilles his slave girl, Briseis, part of his legitimate
spoils of war.
"You shameless schemer," he cried, "always aiming at a profitable
deall How can you expect any of the men to give you loyal service
when you send them on a raid or into battle? It was no quarrel with
the Trojan spearmen that brought me here to fight. They have never
done me any harm. They have never lifted cow or horse of mine, nor
ravaged any crop that the deep soil of Phthia grows to feed her men;
for the roaring seas and many a dark range of mountains lie between
us. The truth is that we joined the expedition to please you; yes, you
unconscionable cur, to get satisfaction from the Trojans for Menelaiis
and yourself a fact which you utterly ignore."
Menelaiis, King of Sparta, was Agamemnon's brother, and
the ostensible cause of the war was the outrage offered to
Menelaiis by Paris (sometimes called Alexander), son of King
Priam of Troy. Entertained in Menelaiis's home at Sparta, Paris
had seized the opportunity of his host's temporary absence to
steal the affection of his wife, the lovely Helen, daughter of Zeus,
and to take her with him to Troy. The legendary cause of this,
though Homer only glances lightly at it, was Aphrodite, who,
having been chosen by Paris as the most beautiful of the god-
desses, promised him as a reward the loveliest woman in the
world Helen of Sparta. Agamemnon, determined to avenge the
insult to his brother and his family, called upon the Achaeans
from many parts of Greece, and from the islands, to sail under
his leadership to Troy and win Helen back.
The Second Book of the Iliad contains the famous Catalogue
of Ships, describing in considerable detail where the Achaean
contingents came from; a long, and, to our minds, rather tedious
list, though to Homer's hearers it was of great importance. But
there is an interesting point concerning this catalogue, one which
puzzled an earlier generation of scholars. Most of the towns and
citadels which Homer describes as of great wealth and power
were, in his own day, and in classical times, mere ruins, if they
existed at all. For example:
The citizens of Argos and Tiryns of the Great Walls; the men of
Hermione and Asine, towns that embrace a deep gulf of the sea; and
those from Troezen, from Eionae, and from vine-clad Epidaurus, with
the Achaean youth of Aegina and Mases, were led by Diomedes of the
loud war-cry. . . .
And, most important of all:
The troops that came from the great stronghold of Mycenae, from
wealthy Corinth and the good town of Cleonae. . . .
HOMER AND THE HISTORIANS 13
These, and others, the poet tells us:
... in their hundred ships, King Agamemnon son of Atreus led.
His following was by far the finest and most numerous. He was a
proud man as he took his stand with his people, armed in gleaming
bronze, the greatest captain of all, in virtue of his rank and as com-
mander of by far the largest force.
Yet, in the ninth century, when Homer wrote, Mycenae was of
little importance, and in later classical times, when every Greek
schoolboy knew and recited Homer, it was a ruin. So was "Min-
yan Orchomenos," and "Tiryns of the Great Walls," and many
another city which, according to the legends, was once rich and
This fact puzzled some scholars, because there were, in sup-
port of the legend that Agamemnon had lived at Mycenae, great
walls which a later generation thought had been built by giants
the Cyclopes; similarly at Tiryns there were these Cyclopean
walls. Nevertheless most scholars inclined to the belief that the
Homeric stories were folk myths and nothing more.
To return to the Iliad: The quarrel between Agamemnon
and Achilles ends in bitter rancor. Agamemnon, determined to
assert his authority, takes Achilles's slave girl to replace the girl
Chryseis, whom he has been forced to return to her father,
Chryses. This aged man was a priest of Apollo, who had let loose
a plague on the Greeks, because Agamemnon had stolen Chryses'
daughter. Achilles, whilst refraining from a direct attack on
Agamemnon, retires with his Myrmidons to their tents and re-
fuses to take any further part in the battle.
That day is coming," he tells Agamemnon, "when the Achaeans
one and all will miss me sorely, and you in your despair will be power-
less to help them as they fall in their hundreds to Hector, killer of
In the Third Book the armies advance to meet each other,
but Hector, principal warrior on the Trojan side, steps forward
and proposes that his brother, Paris, should meet Menelaiis in
single combat, whoever wins being entitled to Helen. A truce is
declared and the two armies sit down opposite each other to watch
14 THE BULL OF MINOS
the duel. Paris is defeated, but his guardian goddess, Aphrodite,
saves him in the nick of time and spirits him back to the city,
much to the disgust of both sides, since Paris is as unpopular
with his own countrymen as he is with the Greeks.
But the gods are adamant and, tempted by the goddess
Athene, Pandarus, one of the Trojan allies, shoots an arrow at
Menelaiis, wounding him and so breaking the truce. This time
fighting breaks out in earnest. The gods themselves join in the
battle, and the valiant Diomedes, an Achaean hero, even succeeds
in felling the war god, Ares, besides wounding Aphrodite when
she tries to rescue her son Aeneas. Hector and Paris return to the
battlefield and Hector issues a challenge to any Greek to meet
him in single combat. The great Telamonian Aias accepts the
challenge, but the fight is indecisive, though tough, and ends with
the combatants chivalrously exchanging gifts. Meanwhile
Achilles continues to sulk in his tent.
It is worth bearing in mind the methods of fighting described
in the Iliad because they have a considerable bearing on the
archaeological discoveries to be described later. In the period
of classical Greece, e.g., in such battles as Marathon (490 B.C.)
and Thermopylae (480 B.C.), the typical Greek soldier was the
hoplite, clad, as Professor Gilbert Murray says, in Rise of the
... in solid metal from head to foot; helmet, breastplate, and
backplate, small round shield, and greaves, all of metal.
Now it is true that the Iliad is full of references to the round
shield "plated in bronze/' to "the clash of men in bronze breast-
plates," and "the flashing of bronze, men slaying and men slain."
The Greeks of classical times, hearing such descriptions, would
imagine the typical heavy armor of the hoplitae, such as you can
often see represented on classical vase paintings or groups of
classical statuary. Not only that, but, as Murray points out, some,
though not all, of the tactics described suggest the close-forma-
tion, tightly disciplined manoeuvres of the fifth-century warriors.
The Trojans came on, like lines of waves on the sea, line behind
line, flashing in bronze, together with their commanders.
HOMER AND THE HISTORIANS 15
But there are other descriptions of methods of fighting which
bear no resemblance to those of classical times, or even to those
of Homer's own period, so far as these can be ascertained. For
example, when the Greek hero, Telamonian Aias, goes to meet
Hector in the above-mentioned duel, he carries a shield
. . . like a tower, made of bronze and seven layers of leather.
Tychius, the master-currier, who lived at Hyle, made this glittering
shield for him with the hides of seven big bulls, which he overlaid
with an eighth layer of bronze. Holding this shield before his breast,
Telamonian Aias went right up to Hector before halting to defy him.
Evidently this shield 'like a tower" covered the entire body,
and was quite unlike any type of shield depicted in classical
times, or even in the ninth century, when Homer lived. Where
did the poet get his description? Scholars were puzzled. Nor was
this the only reference to a leather body shield. In Book Four
there is a passage describing Hector walking from the battlefield
back to the town.
As he walked, the dark leather rim of his bossed shield tapped
him above and below, on the ankles and on the back of the neck.
Obviously this would have been impossible if the hero had
been carrying an ordinary round shield with an armband. Evi-
dently he was wearing a large body shield slung over his shoul-
ders by means of a leather baldric.
And to take one final example, there is a scene in Book Fif-
teen when Hector and his followers have forced the Achaeans
right back to their ships, and are threatening to storm the wall
which the besiegers have built to protect themselves. Here Hector
slays many Greeks, among them one Periphetes, a Mycenaean.
He had just turned to fly when he tripped against the rim of his
shield which he carried to keep missiles off and which came down to
his feet. Thrown off his balance, he fell backwards, and as he reached
the ground his helmet rang loudly on his temples, at once attracting
Hector's notice. . . .
which was too bad for Periphetes. If he had been carrying a
small round shield of the classical type or even of the ninth-
century pattern, such an accident could not have happened.
Where, asked the scholars, did Homer get the idea of these big
cumbersome leather shields? And why were they mixed up with
much more frequent references to shields of the more familiar
There were other anachronisms, too. For instance, in
Homer's time and afterwards, weapons, whether swords or
spears, were almost invariably of iron. In the Iliad and the
Odyssey, with one or two insignificant exceptions, weapons are of
bronze. Iron is known, but is used almost entirely for tools. Again,
the Homeric heroes use chariots, which do not seem to have been
widely used in Homer's day and had passed out of fashion in
To complete our very rapid review of the story, Agamem-
non, worried by the Trojan success, sends an embassy to Achilles.
It consists of the wily Odysseus, King of Ithaca and hero of the
Odyssey, the aged Nestor, King of Pylos and "elder stateman"
among the Achaeans, and the redoubtable Telamonian Aias, he
of the great shield. They convey Agamemnon's promise to return
Briseis, together with an enormous gift, as compensation for the
insult Achilles has been offered, but the hero returns a contemptu-
ous answer. It is not until the Trojans threaten the ships that
Achilles takes notice. Even then, he only permits his beloved
friend and squire, Patroclus, to borrow his armor and go out to
the assistance of the hard-pressed Greeks. But Hector kills
Patroclus and strips him of his armor.
Only then does Achilles realize the tragic result of his own
intransigence. In bitter rage, and re-equipped with dazzling new
armor made by the god Hephaestus himself, he returns to the
fight with his Myrmidons. The Trojans are hurled back, Achilles
meets Hector in single combat, slays him beneath the walls of
Troy and then drags the body in the dust, behind his chariot
Every morning he drives the chariot, with its burden, round the
pyre on which lies the corpse of Patroclus. He honors his dead
friend with a great funeral, after which games are held. The
heroes contend with each other in running, boxing, duelling with
the spear, chariot racing, archery, wrestling and javelin throwing.
The greatest moment of the Iliad is undoubtedly the end,
when the aged King Priam comes at night to the Achaean camp
to ransom the body of his dead son. It is one of the most moving
HOMER AND THE HISTORIANS 17
passages in the literature of the world, and I make no apology
for quoting again from Mr. Rieu's effective translation. Kneeling
before Achilles, the slayer of his son, Priam says:
Achilles, fear the gods, and be merciful to me, remembering your
own father, though I am even more entitled to compassion, since I
have brought myself to do a thing that no one else on earth has done
I have raised to my lips the hand of the man who killed my son.
Priam had set Achilles thinking of his own father and brought him
to the edge of tears. Taking the old man's hand, he gently put him
from him; and overcome by their memories they both broke down.
Priam, crouching at Achilles' feet, wept bitterly for man-slaying Hec-
tor, and Achilles wept for his father, and then again for Patroclus.
The house was filled with sounds of their lamentation. . . .
The other great epic, the Odyssey, describes the long-de-
layed, arduous return of the "much-enduring" Odysseus to his
home after the sack of Troy. In the Odyssey we also learn what
happened to some of the other Achaean heroes who figure in the
Iliad. We meet Menelaiis, back again at his palace in Sparta,
with the repentant Helen beside him. No longer the ferrune fatale,
she is now the perfect housewife:
. . . Helen with her ladies came down from her lofty perfumed
room, looking like Artemis with her golden distaff. Adreste drew up
for her a comfortable chair; Alcippe brought a rug of the softest wool;
while Phylo carried her silver work-basket, a gift from Alcandre, wife
of Polybus, who lived in Egyptian Thebes, where houses are furnished
in the most sumptuous fashion. This man had given Menelaiis two
silver baths, a pair of three-legged cauldrons, and ten talents in gold;
while in addition his wife gave Helen beautiful gifts for herself,
including a golden spindle and a basket that ran on castors and was
made of silver finished with a rim of gold. . . .*
It is in the Odyssey that we learn what happened to Aga-
memnon, King of Men, on his return to Mycenae. Old Nestor,
speaking to Telemachus, son of Odysseus, describes the treachery
of Aegisthos, Agamemnon's cousin, who seduced Clytemnestra,
the King's wife, while he was away at Troy.
1 Of this passage a sceptical archaeologist friend writes: "I know people
often say that Helen in die Odyssey is reformed and domesticated but she
seems to need an awful lot of handmaidens to bring in her knitting."
While we that were beleaguering Troy toiled at heroic tasks, he
spent his leisured days, right in the heart of Argos where the horses
graze, besieging Agamemnon's wife with his seductive talk. At first
Queen Clytemnestra turned a deaf ear to his dishonourable schemes.
She was a sensible woman, and beside, she had a man with her, a
minstrel by profession, to whom Agamemnon when he left for Troy
had given strict orders to watch over his queen. But when the fatal
day appointed for her conquest came, Aegisthos took this minstrel
to a desert isle, left him there as carrion for the birds of prey, and
carried Clytemnestra off to his own house, fond lover, willing
dame. . . .
In another part of the Odyssey, Menelaiis completes the
tale of his brother's doom.
Agamemnon set foot on the soil of his father with a happy heart,
and as he touched it, kissed his native earth. The warm tears rolled
down his cheeks, he was so glad to see his land again. But his arrival
was observed by a spy in a watch tower, whom Aegisthos had had the
cunning to post there. . . . Aegisthos set his brains to work and laid
a clever trap. He selected twenty of his best soldiers from the town,
left them in ambush, and after ordering a banquet to be prepared in
another part of the building set out in a horse-chariot to bring home
the King, with his heart full of ugly thoughts. Agamemnon, never
guessing that he was going to his doom, came up with him from the
coast, and Aegisthos feasted and killed him as a man might fell an ox
in its manger. Not a single one of the King's following was left, nor
of Aegisthos' company either. They were killed in the palace to a man.
The classical poet Aeschylus, whose superb tragedy, Aga-
memnon, is based on the same theme, makes the guilty Queen
even less sympathetic. According to his version, Clytemnestra
was herself the slayer of the King, Aegisthos merely her accom-
plice. Such was the tragedy enacted at Mycenae.
Before ending this chapter I must apologize to all lovers .of
Homer for making such a scanty offering from the great man's
table, though I hope it may at least tempt others to enjoy the
full Homeric feast. I shall not attempt at this stage to discuss the
so-called "Homeric Problem" whether the poems are the con-
scious and deliberate creation of one man, or represent the work
of generations of poets working within a common tradition. All
I wish to emphasize now is the extraordinary realism of Homer,
HOMER AND THE HISTORIANS 19
and the problem which this set the scholars of the last century.
Although the epics, especially the Odyssey, contain much that is
magical and supernatural, their descriptions of everyday life, of
houses (from palaces to a swineherds hut), of farming and sea-
manship, of warfare, of the domestic occupations of women, of
clothes and jewellery and works of art, are so intensely real that
even the most sceptical professors of the early nineteenth century
found it hard to understand how the poet could have imagined
Homer's geography, too, shows a detailed knowledge, not
only of mainland Greece, but of the Aegean islands, of capes,
harbors and sea routes, of Syria and Asia Minor. In describing the
Trojan Plain, he makes the reader see its physical features: the
winding river Scamander and its companion, the Simois; the two
springs near the city, one warm, one cold; the fig tree near the
Scaean Gate; and, dominating it all, towering Mount Ida, 2 where
Zeus sat, watching the battle.
Yet the fact remained that when George Grote published his
History of Greece in 1846, there was, apart from these topo-
graphic details, not a scrap of material evidence not one frag-
ment of a building, piece of pottery, jewellery, or armor to prove
that the world which Homer described had ever existed outside
his imagination. And the academic world nodded their heads ap-
provingly when they read Grote's grave summing up of the Tro-
Though literally believed, reverentially cherished, and numbered
among the gigantic phenomena of the past, by the Grecian public,
it is in the eyes of modern enquiry essentially a legend and nothing
more. If we are asked whether it be not a legend embodying portions
of historical matter, and raised upon a basis of truth ... if we are
asked whether there was not really some such historical Trojan war as
this, our answer must be, that as the possibility of it cannot be denied,
so neither can the reality of it be affirmed. We possess nothing but the
ancient epic itself without any independent evidence. . . .
But in the year Grote's book appeared there was a young man
working in a shipping office in Amsterdam, who was destined to
make the great scholar's words irrevocably out of date.
* Not to be confused with the other Mount Ida in Crete.
SCHLIEMANN THE ROMANTIC
A SEVEN-YEAR-OLD boy, in the dress of 1829, sits at a table in a
heavily furnished room. A large book lies before him, in which
he is completely absorbed. It is a Christmas gift from the boy's
father, the Protestant parson of a little town in Mecklenburg,
North Germany. The work Jerrer's Universal History is almost
as heavy as the child, but that does not worry him as he pores
over an engraving which shows the walls of burning Troy.
Through the Scaean Gate comes Aeneas, bearing on his back
his aged father, Anchises.
The boy turns to his father, half dozing by the fire, and says,
"Father, did you tell me that Troy had completely gone?"
"And that there's nothing of it left at all?"
"Nothing at all."
"But Jerrer must have seen Troy, or how could he have
drawn it here?"
"Heinrich, that is simply a fanciful picture."
The boy looks more closely at the drawing. Still he is not
"Father, did Troy have great walls like these in the picture?"
"Then" triumphantly "they can't all have gone. Some
must still be there, hidden under the ground. I'd love to dig
them up. Father, some day shall I go and dig them up?"
The elder Schliemann, a disillusioned man, nods wearily.
"I shouldn't be surprised. And now be quiet. I want to
Anyone who is inclined to regard that incident as too fanciful
need only turn to page three of Schliemann's llios, where he will
find it described by the great man himself. There is no need to
SCHLIEMANN THE ROMANTIC 21
doubt its essential truth, for it has the unmistakable Schliemann
characteristics which reveal themselves throughout his life: a ro-
mantic preoccupation with the past, inflexible determination, and
complete literal-mindedness. He seems to have inherited the first
trait from his father.
Though my father was neither a scholar nor an archaeologist he
had a passion for ancient history. He often told me with warm enthu-
siasms of the tragic fate of Herculaneum and Pompeii, and seemed
to consider him the luckiest of men who had the means and the time
to visit the excavations that were going on there.
But Schliemann the elder was also a drunkard, a sceptic and
a lecher, who took only a sporadic interest in his six children, and
although he taught Heinrich Latin, the boy had to leave school
at the age of fourteen and become an apprentice in a grocer's
shop in the small town of Furstenburg.
I was engaged [he wrote] from five in the morning until eleven
at night, and had not a moment's leisure for study. Moreover I rapidly
forgot the little that I had learnt in childhood; but I did not lose the
love of learning; indeed I never lost it, and, as long as I live, I shall
never forget the evening when a drunken miller came into the
shop. . . .
The miller, whose name was Niederhoffer, was a failed Protes-
tant clergyman who had taken to drink, which, however:
. . . had not made him forget his Homer; for on the evening that
he entered the shop he recited to us about a hundred lines of the poet,
observing the rhythmic cadence of the verses. Although I did not un-
derstand a syllable, the melodious sound of the words made a deep
impression on me. . . . From that moment I never ceased to pray to
God that by His grace I might yet have the happiness of learning
Troy and Homer became an obsession with him.
What weighs upon our heart, be it joy or sorrow [he writes in his
portentous way], always finds utterance from our lips, especially in
childhood; and so it happened that I talked of nothing else to my
22 THE BULL OF MINOS
playfellows, but of Troy and of the mysterious and wonderful things
in which our village abounded. I was continually laughed at by every-
one except two young girls, Louise and Minna Meincke, the daughters
of a fanner in Zahren, a village only a mile distance from Ankershagen
With one of these girls, Minna, he carried on a curious child-
hood romance which seems to have consisted mainly of visits to
all the antiquities in the neighborhood, such as the medieval
castle of Ankershagen, where a robber knight named Henning
von Holstein was said to have buried treasure.
Minna showed me the greatest sympathy and entered into all my
vast plans for the future. ... It was agreed between us that as soon
as we were grown up we would marry, and then at once set to work
to explore all the mysteries of Ankershagen; excavating ... the vast
treasures hidden by Henning, then Henning's sepulchre, and lastly
Troy; nay we could imagine nothing pleasanter than to spend all our
lives in digging for relics of the past.
Fantastic childhood ambitions are common enough, even
among ordinary men who forget them as they grow older. But
to Heinrich Schliemann they remained real and permanent. At
the age of nine he lost touch with Minna, but five years later, just
before he left Ankershagen to work in the grocer's shop, he met
her again, and the extraordinary couple (both only fourteen)
burst into floods of tears and fell into each other's arms.
I was now sure that Minna still loved me, and this stimulated my
ambition [he wrote]. Nay, from that moment I felt withiri me a
boundless energy, and was sure that with unremitting zeal I could
raise myself in the world and show that I was worthy of her. I only
implored God to grant that she might not marry before I had attained
an independent position.
This would have been sheer rhodomontade in most men.
Schliemann meant every word of it. And though he lost his
childhood Minna, he spent more than half his life looking for a
substitute; nor could he begin his great archaeological work
until he had found one, thirty years later.
SCHLIEMANN THE ROMANTIC 23
In the meantime he lived a life of fantastic adventure, such
as only a romantic novelist could have invented. His father's
never-ending amours and his outbreaks of drunken violence made
life at home impossible. Heinrich broke away and got a job in
Hamburg as a grocer's assistant at nine pounds per annum, but
his weak frame was unequal to the work. One day, trying to shift
a heavy cask, he injured his chest and spat blood. He tried an-
other job but his weak lungs forced him to give it up. Still deter-
mined not to return home, he next became a boy on a small
sailing brig, the Dorothea, trading between Hamburg and Vene-
zuela, but the ship was wrecked off the Dutch coast.
After tossing for nine hours in a small open boat in a fierce
storm, Heinrich and his eight companions were thrown by
the surf onto a bank close to the shore of the River Texel.
In Amsterdam, exhausted and starving, he feigned illness
and was taken to a hospital, and while there wrote to a ship-
broker friend, Mr. Wendt in Hamburg, explaining his situation.
The letter arrived when Wendt was entertaining friends. A sub-
scription was immediately raised and the delighted Schliemann
received the sum of 240 florins (20 pounds). Soon after, through
the help of the Prussian Consul General, he found a situation in
the office of an Amsterdam merchant, F. C. Quien, stamping
bills of exchange and carrying letters to and from the post office.
From Quien he joined the office of an old-established firm of
merchants, B. H. Schroder & Co., as "correspondent and book-
From the moment he entered Schroder's office, his fortunes
began to improve. Before, he had been stumbling and flounder-
ing; now he had two valuable assets, a post in which he could
exercise his talents, and an employer who had the wit to perceive
and make use of them. For the shy young amateur antiquarian
from Ankershagen, the Homer-loving grocer's assistant, discov-
ered that he had a brilliant flair for business.
He did not come to Schroder's unprepared. While working
as a messenger boy for Quien, he had applied himself to the
study of modern languages. Out of his annual salary of thirty-two
pounds, he devoted half to payments for books and lessons, and
lived on the remaining half "in a wretched garret without a fire,
24 THE BULL OF MINOS
where I shivered with cold in winter and was scorched by the
heat in summer." He learned each language by a unique method
of his own, which consisted in reading a great deal aloud, without
making a translation, taking a lesson every day, and constantly
writing essays on subjects which interested him, correcting these
under the supervision of a teacher, and repeating in the next
lesson what had been corrected on the previous day.
When he applied for a post with B. H. Schroder & Co., they
were astonished to find that this pale, awkward youth of twenty-
two, with his large head perched on his small body, had com-
mand of seven languages. Oddly, however, the seven did not
include Greek. Deliberately he left that to the last for fear that
"the powerful spell of this noble language might take too great
a hold on me and endanger my commercial interests." First he
must make money. Afterwards he would be free to pursue the
passion of his life.
Within a few months of his arrival Schroder saw that young
Schliemann had all the makings of a first-class merchant. He was
shrewd, tireless in pursuit of business, and endowed with a
prodigious memory and great capacity for detail. Behind these
qualities, supplying the driving force, was a consuming ambition
to become rich. Riches he must have, he saw clearly, not for their
own sake, not for ostentatious display, but because they could
give him security, leisure and freedom to pursue his chosen
interests. And, of course, once he had acquired wealth, he could
return to Mecklenburg and marry Minna.
He was promoted rapidly. At the age of twenty-four he
decided to learn Russian and within six weeks was writing busi-
ness letters in that language, and was able to talk in their own
tongue to Russian indigo merchants visiting Amsterdam. Schro-
der's did a large trade as indigo exporters, especially with Russia.
Schliemann, no longer a clerk, was sent by his employers to St.
Petersburg and later to Moscow as their representative. In Russia
he throve so successfully that, within two years of his arrival, he
was registered as a merchant in the First Guild and the banks had
advanced him credits amounting to fifty-seven thousand roubles.
Elated with his success, he wrote to a friend of the Meincke
family asking him to see Minna on his behalf and ask for her in
SCHLIEMANN THE ROMANTIC 25
But to my sorrow, I received a month later a heartrending answer,
that she was just married. I considered this disappointment at the time
as the greatest disaster which could have befallen me, and I was for
some time utterly unfit for any occupation and sick in bed. ... I now
saw such a brilliant chance before me; but how could I think of real-
izing it without her participation?
It was twelve years since he had seen her.
To a man of Schliemann's type, there was only one way
of dealing with such an emotional wound by work, which,
while it could not kill the pain, would at least dull it. Soon he
had become a merchant in his own right, and was approached by
one of the richest businessmen in St. Petersburg, who offered to
put his nephew into partnership with the German, with a backing
of one hundred thousand roubles. For the moment Schliemann
declined. He could afford to bide his time.
He continued to amass money, traveling from capital to
capital Berlin, Paris, London always staying at the best hotels
(though in the cheapest rooms), fascinated by the new industrial
age which he saw growing up around him. He loved machines
and speed fascinated him, though even the new railways were
too slow for his restless, impatient spirit. Occasionally he sought
solace in the past. While in London on business he would take a
few hours off to visit the British Museum. "I saw the Egyptian
things, which interested me more than anything I have ever
seen." Then back to indigo shipments and order books, and the
life of hotels, packet boats and railways. By the time he was
thirty he had acquired a huge fortune, and began to consider
But though shrewd and practical in his business affairs,
Schliemann was extremely awkward in his relations with women.
He feared with good cause that women might now seek to
many him for his money; he was conscious of his plainness,
jealous of the handsome young officers who danced attendance
on the women whom he favored. He was always imagining him-
self in love then doubting his judgment. "I only see the virtues
and never the failings of the fair sex/' he wrote to his sister. And
when, finally, he married Katherina, niece of a business acquaint-
ance, the marriage soon proved a failure. She was intelligent, but
28 THE BULL OF MINOS
practical and unimaginative; quite incapable of understanding
his impetuous, romantic nature, in which there was still so much
of the ardor of a boy. "You do not love me, and therefore have no
sympathy for my good fortune, nor do you share my joys and
sorrows, but think of nothing but die gratification of your own
desires and caprices," he wrote to her only eighteen months after
the marriage. Yet this unfortunate union survived fifteen years
of quarrels, partings, reconciliations and violent outbursts of
hatred; and Katherina bore him a son and two daughters.
Meanwhile, in 1851, he paid his first visit to America, ac-
quired American citizenship, opened a bank in California during
the Gold Rush, bought gold dust and casually scooped another
fortune, almost without meaning to. His main purpose in visiting
the United States was to settle the financial affairs of his brother
Louis, who had died of typhus in Sacramento City; the gold-dust
fortune was incidental. Schliemann also caught typhus, and di-
rected the affairs of his bank from a bed in the backroom, while
the prospectors queued up with their bags of dust in the front.
Although his life was despaired of, he recovered and returned to
By the age of thirty-three he was master of fifteen languages;
in addition to the seven with which he had equipped himself ten
years earlier, he now had Polish, Swedish, Norwegian, Slovenian,
Danish, Latin, and modern and ancient Greek. Yet he despaired
of ever enjoying the life of scholarship and learning which he
had longed for as a very young man. "I am lacking in the ground-
ing and fundamentals of learning," he wrote despairingly. "I can
never become a scholar." Yet after the week's work in his office
he would sit up, on Sundays, from early morning till late at
night translating Sophocles into modern Greek. And now at last
he could read his beloved Homer in the original.
The vision of his childhood never left him; he was still de-
termined to dig at Troy, and believed that there he would find
Homer's city. To this end he studied and memorized the great
epics, reading them as history rather than as poetry. Schliemann
approached Homer with the same unquestioning faith with
which the literalist regards the Bible. If Homer said so, it was
so. But many years were to pass before he could put his beliefs
to the test.
SCHLIEMANN THE ROMANTIC 27
Seven years later he made an extensive tour of the Middle
East, travelling across the desert from Cairo to Jerusalem, visiting
Petra in Trans-Jordan and learning yet another language
Arabic. On this journey he is believed to have visited Mecca
disguised as an Arab, and even had himself circumcised as an
His second visit to America was in 1868, when he was forty-
six and already thinking of giving up his business affairs. On his
return he made yet another attempt to be reconciled to his wife,
after one of their periodic estrangements, even buying and fur-
nishing for her a magnificent house in Paris. But it was in vain.
Her family disliked him, and supported her in opposing his plan
to give the children a German education. Katherina stayed in
Russia and sent only bitter replies to his pleading letters. In
despair the unhappy, homeless man set off on another of his
restless journeys across Europe, journeys which were yielding
him less and less delight. But this time he turned to Greece, and
set foot for the first time on Homeric soil, on the rocky island of
Ithaca, home of Odysseus, the Wanderer.
Peace and delight came to him there. Although he had come
to Ithaca at the height of summer, so great was his enthusiasm
that, in his own words, "I forgot heat and thirst. . . . Now I
was investigating the neighbourhood, reading in the Odyssey the
stirring scenes enacted there, now admiring the splendid pano-
And, being Schliemann, of course he had to dig. Visiting the
so-called "Castle of Odysseus," he hired workmen and dug up
vases containing human ashes, together with a sacrificial knife
and a few clay idols. He went away quite happy, believing he had
found the ashes of Odysseus and Penelope and their descendants.
From Ithaca he went on to the Peloponnese, paid a brief visit to
Mycenae, then crossed over to the Dardanelles and rode across
the Plain of Troy. These visits, though brief, had been enough to
whet his appetite. From then onwards he began to make plans
to retire from commerce and devote the rest of his life to ex-
cavation. He had the money, the leisure and the opportunity. But
something very essential was missing the companionship of the
woman with whom he "could imagine nothing pleasanter than to
spend all our lives in digging for relics of the past."
28 THE BULL OF MINOS
When he returned to Paris at the end of the year, he had at
last made up his mind to obtain a divorce. To do so, he decided,
it would be best to go to America, where the divorce procedure
was simpler than that obtaining in Europe. But, in that winter of
1868, surrounded by gay company but lonely at heart, he remem-
bered an old friend, a priest named Vimpos who had taught him
Greek in St. Petersburg, and was now Archbishop of Athens.
To Vimpos, Schliemann opened his heart in what must have been
the strangest and most moving letter that reverend gentleman
had ever received. For in it, Schliemann, the forty-six-year-old
millionaire, asked the Archbishop to find him a Greek wife.
I swear to you, by the bones of my mother, that I will direct my
whole mind and energies to making my future wife happy. . . . Here
I am constantly in the company of witty and beautiful women, who
would be very willing to heal my sufferings and make much of me if
they knew I was thinking of a divorce. But, my friend, the flesh is
weak, and I am afraid to fall in love with a Frenchwoman, lest I
should be unlucky once again.
Therefore I beg you to enclose with your answer the portrait of
some beautiful Greek woman. ... I entreat you; choose fo. me a
wife of the same angelic character as your married sister. She should
be poor, but well educated; she must be enthusiastic about Homer and
about the rebirth of my beloved Greece. It does not matter whether
she knows foreign languages or not. But she should be of the Greek
type, with black hair, and, if possible, beautiful. But my main require-
ment is a good and loving heart. . . .
In the spring of the following year, while Schliemann was
in Indianapolis waiting for his divorce, Vimpos's reply arrived,
with a photograph of a classically beautiful girl of sixteen
named Sophia Engastromenos. The German was entranced, but
under no illusions. There is a lovely humility in the letter he
wrote to his sister concerning his plans.
I intend, if everything goes well, to go to Athens in July. ... I
shall, however, only marry her if she is interested in learning, for I
think that it is only possible for a beautiful young girl to love and
honour an old man if she is enthusiastic about learning, wherein he is
much farther advanced than she.
SCHLIEMANN THE ROMANTIC 29
But in August, when he arrived in Athens, any such doubts
were set at rest. Not only was Sophia more beautiful than her
photograph had suggested, but she was modest and sweet-
natured, besides being able to answer satisfactorily his catechism,
which included such questions as, "In what year did the Emperor
Hadrian come to Athens?" and, "What passages of Homer have
you by heart?" They were married, and on his honeymoon the
Sophia is a splendid wife, who could make any man happy, for,
like all Greek women, she has a kind of divine reverence for her hus-
band. . . . She loves me as a Greek, with passion, and I love her no
less. I speak only Greek to her, which is the most beautiful language
in the world.
After forty years the dream which had haunted Schliemann
at Ankershagen, and which he had wanted to share with his
childhood sweetheart, Minna Meincke, was coming true. In the
following spring he was making preliminary excavations at Troy,
and a year later his eighteen-year-old wife joined him at his
camp near the hill of Hissarlik. Their joint adventure had begun.
THE "TREASURE OF PRIAM"
Passing the lookout and the windswept fig-tree and
keeping some way from the wall, they sped along the cart-
track, and so came to the two lovely springs that are the
sources of Scamander's eddying stream. In one of these the
water comes up hot; steam rises from it and hangs about like
smoke above a blazing fire. But the other, even in summer,
gushes up as cold as hail or freezing snow or water that has
turned to ice. . . . l
THOSE "two lovely springs," described so minutely by Homer,
intrigued and puzzled nineteenth-century visitors to Troy long
before Schliemann came. For he was far from being the first
to seek the site of Priam's city. From the eighteenth century on-
wards the inhabitants had become accustomed to the sight of
learned gentlemen from Europe plunging thermometers into the
hillside springs in the hope of finding the two which Homer had
described, but the results had not been very satisfactory. The
only place at which two springs of differing temperatures could
be found was the village of Bounarbashi, and even there the
difference was only a matter of a few degrees. None the less, for
some time this village, and the rocky hill of Bali Dagh behind
it, were considered to be the site of Homer's Ilium. Bounarbashi
stands at the southern extremity of the Plain of Troy, and the
rocky heights behind it do strongly suggest at first sight the
obvious place for a citadel.
But there was another possible site, the hill of Hissarlik,
much nearer the sea, and from 1820 onwards a number of
scholars supported its claim, though it was much less spectacular
than the towering Bali Dagh; and it did not possess the "hot and
1 The Iliad, Book XXII.
THE "TREASURE OF PRIAM" 31
Schliemann, who had been over the ground in 1868, Iliad in
hand, had decided against Bounarbashi and for Hissarlik. After
all, had not Homer described Achilles's chasing Hector three
times round the wall of Troy? an impossible feat if the town
had been perched on the edge of Bali Dagh, but feasible at
In addition to this [he wrote], the distance of Bounarbashi from
the Hellespont is, in a straight line, eight miles, while all the indica-
tions of the Iliad seem to prove that the distance between Ilium and
the Hellespont was very short, hardly exceeding three miles.
As for the hot and cold springs, he had tested those at
Bounarbashi and found, not two, but thirty-four, "all at a uniform
temperature of 62 degrees Farenheit."
No, Hissarlik must be the place. Near it, in historic times,
had stood the Hellenic, and later Roman, town of Novum Ilium
"New Troy" ruins of which still survived. This was the city
which the later Greeks and Romans had built on what they be-
lieved was the traditional site of Priam's "sacred Ilios." Alexander
the Great himself had offered at its temple before marching on
to conquer the East. Historical tradition, geography and, above
all, the testimony of the poems themselves all combined to con-
vince the German that under Hissarlik lay Homer's Troy. There
it stood, the mysterious mound, rising 162 feet above the scanty
ruins of the classical city. Other investigators had scratched its
surface, but now, for the first time, Heinrich Schliemann was
going to attack it.
From September to November, 1871, eighty workmen, under
Schliemann's direction, drove a deep trench into the face of the
steep northern slope, and dug down to a depth of thirty-three feet
below the surface of the hill. Winter compelled him to give up,
but in March he was back again with Sophia, and this time he
increased his labor force to 150, and brought with him "the
very best English wheelbarrows, pickaxes, and spades . . , pro-
vided by my honoured friends Messrs. John Henry Schroder &
Co. of London," together with "three overseers and an engineer,
to make maps and plans." He also built on top of Hissarlik a
wooden house, with three rooms and a kitchen.
Remember that when Schliemann began this monumental
32 THE BULL OF MINOS
work he had no previous experience to guide him, nor could
he draw upon the experience of other field archaeologists, be-
cause nothing on this scale had ever been attempted. At that
time there was no recognized technique of excavation. The
modern archaeological student, trained, long before he is allowed
near a site, in the careful methods which have left even Hogarth
and Pitt-Rivers far behind, shudders when he reads of Schlie-
mann's methods. His great trench drove through the successive
strata of the mound, and when he came to a building of relatively
late date, impeding access to the lower levels, which alone inter-
ested him, he did not wait, as would a modern excavator, to
photograph and record it, but demolished it forthwith.
At a later date, under the guidance of his brilliant young
assistant, Dorpfeld, he learned to be more patient and scientific;
yet ruthless though his methods were at first, there is no doubt
that his instinct was right. For, as he dug into the mound, he
discovered that there was not only one Troy but many Troys;
walls stood upon earlier walls, and below them older walls still.
He could not have hoped to have uncovered the whole of each
city in turn before digging down to the next Believing that the
Troy he sought Homer's Troy must lie very deep, his only
course was to cut down through the strata like taking a slice out
of a layer cake.
His young wife was at his side during the long days when
he toiled in the trench; and at night, in their hut on top of the
mound, her delicate fingers helped him to sort out and classify
the fragments of pottery, clay idols, fragments of weapons and
tools, which they had sifted from the soil. It was a far more
difficult, perplexing and unrewarding task than Schliemann had
dreamed of, nor did the climate make it easier. Summer brought
dust, flies, and a sultry heat; snakes slid down from the roof of the
hut and had to be killed; mosquitoes put Heinrich down with
malaria, though Sophia escaped it. The next winter a freezing
blast from the north "blew with such violence through the chinks
in our house-walls . . . that we were not even able to light our
lamps in the evening, and although we had fire on the hearth, yet
the thermometer showed nine degrees of frost."
In the spring of 1873 he wrote, "The leaves are already
THE TREASURE OF PRIAM" 33
beginning to burst on the trees, and the Trojan plain is covered
with spring flowers. For the last fortnight we have been hearing
the croaking of millions of frogs, and the storks returned a week
ago." And he complained of "the hideous screeching of the in-
numerable owls that nest in the holes of my trenches. There is
something weird and horrible about their screeching; it is unbear-
able, especially at night."
This was the beginning of the Schliemanns' third season
at Troy. By now several huge cuttings and platforms had been
driven into the hill and thousands of tons of earth had been
removed. There, undoubtedly, were the remains of several pre-
historic and later cities Schliemann discerned seven but which
was Priam's Troy? The excavator knew that the traditional date
of the Trojan War, as calculated by the ancient writers, was
round about 1180 B.C., but in 1873 there was no convenient sys-
tem of comparative dating by pottery, 2 and Schliemann had no
means of telling which of the cities had been destroyed in the
twelfth century. Yet he firmly believed that, somewhere in that
bewildering tangle of walls some built on top of each other,
some separated by layers of debris lay the city he had sought
so long and painfully. Surely he would recognize it from Homer's
own description? He must look for the remains of the Scaean
Gate above which the aged King Priam had sat with his coun-
Old age had brought their fighting days to an end, but they were
excellent speakers, those Trojan counsellors, sitting there on the
tower, like the cicadas perched on a tree in the woods, chirping de-
lightfully. . . .
Somewhere, too, surely, were the ruins of Priam's Palace, wherein
had stood the coffers from which the old King had taken the
precious objects to ransom his son's body.
He also weighed and took ten talents of gold; and he took two
shining tripods, four cauldrons and a very lovely cup, which the Thra-
cians had given him when he went to them on an embassy. . . .
1 He could, of course, recognize that pottery which was unlike any be-
longing to the historical perioos must almost certainly be prehistoric, but
whether early, middle or kte he had no means of knowing.
34 THE BULL OF MINOS
But did any of the walls he had uncovered look as if they
had belonged to the mighty city the poet had described? Only
those in the higher strata; and this perplexed and saddened
Schliemann, who argued that, as Homer's city was so ancient, it
must lie near the bottom of the mound.
As it was my object to excavate Troy, which I expected to find in
one of the lower cities, I was forced to demolish many interesting ruins
in the upper strata; as, for example, at a depth of twenty feet below
the surface, the ruins of a prehistoric building ten feet high, the walls
of which consisted of hewn blocks of limestone perfectly smooth and
cemented with clay.
And again, during the same excavation, in May, 1872, he
had "brought to light, near the surface, a pretty bastion, com-
posed of large blocks of limestone, which may date from the
time of Lysimachus." Though the bastion was of Homeric pro-
portions, the fact that it was near the surface damned it for
Schliemann, who could not conceive that it was earlier than the
third century B.C. (Lysimachus was one of Alexander's generals,
Yet the lower strata were disappointing; much of them con-
sisted of rough, ill-built walls and mean dwellings containing
poor pottery and sometimes stone implements. However, the
layers were not clearly defined, but overlapped in different parts
of the site, so it was not always easy to decide which were the
earlier strata and which were the later. In one place, on the
south side of the hill, Schliemann had made a more promising
discovery, a great mass of masonry, consisting of two distinct
walls, each about fifteen feet broad and twenty feet h>gh, built
close together and founded on the rock at a depth of forty-six
feet below the surface. These he called "the Great Tower,"
though admitting that "they may originally have been intended
by their builders for a different purpose."
In the middle of March, 1873, Schliemann began a large
excavation to the west of this so-called "Great Tower." After
digging down through the remains of a late Greek house, then
through a layer of debris, the workmen uncovered what appeared
to be a well-paved street, seventeen feet wide, running down
abruptly in a southwesterly direction towards the plain. This
THE "TREASURE OF PRIAM" 35
street, the excavator decided, must at one time have led to a
large building within the city:
I therefore immediately set 100 men to dig through the ground
lying in front of it in that direction. I found the street covered to a
height of from 7 to 10 feet with yellow, red, or black wood-ashes,
mixed with thoroughly burnt and often partly-vitrified fragments of
bricks and stones. Above this thick layer of debris I came upon the
ruins of a large building composed of stones cemented with earth. . . .
Nearby, in a northeasterly direction, he brought to light two
large gateways, standing twenty feet apart, in front of which
lay a mass of calcined rubbish, from seven to ten feet deep,
which, Schliemann thought, had fallen from the burning walls
of his Great Tower "which must once have crowned the gates.*
The impatient child in Schliemann was always stronger
than the cool-brained archaeologist. He had tried hard to find
what he wished to find, and now, after three arduous years, it
seemed that his faith had been justified. Without pausing to
check his deductions, or to consult the opinions of other scholars,
he announced to the world that he had discovered the Scaean
Gate and the Palace of Priam.
Many of the professional scholars, particularly the Germans,
had been opposed to Schliemann's excavations. For more than
a century they and their predecessors had theorized, from the
depth of their study chairs, over the probable site of Troy; but
not one had gone out to dig there. And now, here was this auda-
cious merchant, without academic training, a lover of publicity
(which, as scholars, they pretended to hate), hasty and inexact
in his methods, ruthlessly tearing down the remains of classical
buildings in an insane search for a city which had probably never
existed outside a poet's imagination. Worst of all, his naive belief
in the historicity of Homer had led him to announce that he had
found the Palace of Priam a King for whose historical existence
there was not a shadow of proof! This was not scholarship, but
sensational journalism. Academic pens were dipped in acid.
Schliemann, behind his apparent triumph, was secretly discour-
aged by these attacks. In May he wrote to his brother:
We have been digging here for three years with a hundred and
fifty workmen . . . and have dragged away 250,000 cubic metres of
36 THE BULL OF MINOS
debris and have collected in the depths of Ilium a fine museum of
very remarkable antiquities. Now, however, we are weary, and since
we have attained our goal and realized the great ideal of OUT life, we
shall finally cease our efforts in Troy on June 15th.
Twice in Schliemann's career as an archaeologist, events
occurred which were strangely like those in the life of Howard
Carter, who discovered Tutankhamun's Tomb half a century
later. The first of these parallels was to occur now. Readers who
recall the great Egyptian discovery in 1922 will remember that
it was not until Carter had begun what was to have been his fare-
well season in the Valley of the Kings' Tombs, after six years of
unsuccessful digging, that he came upon the intact tomb of the
Pharaoh. Schliemann, as we have seen, had decided to end his
Trojan excavations and pay off his workmen on June fifteenth.
One day before this date, he was standing, accompanied by a few
of his workmen, near the circuit wall close to the ancient building
which he believed to be Priam's Palace, and northwest of the
"Scaean Gate," when he noticed a large copper object embedded
under a layer of red and calcined ruins, above which stood a
fortification wall. Looking more closely, the excavator's sharp
eyes noticed, behind the copper, something bright and gleam-
ing. It looked like gold. . . .
Schliemann glanced at his workmen. They had noticed
nothing. Then followed a piece of Odyssean cunning. Keeping
quite calm, he called Sophia to him and told her quietly to have
the paidos called the time of rest. "Tell them it is my birthday,"
he instructed her, "and that they 11 get their wages without work-
ing!" When the workmen had dispersed, together with the
overseer, Sophia returned and stood near her husband as he
crouched beneath the wall in the bright sunlight, digging out
from the hard-packed earth object after object of gleaming gold
or dull silver.
This required great exertion and involved great risk [he wrote
afterwards], since the wall of fortification, beneath which I had to dig,
threatened every moment to fall down upon me. But the sight of so
many objects, every one of which is of inestimable value to archaeol-
ogy, made me reckless, and I never thought of any danger. It would,
however, have been impossible for me to have removed the treasure
THE * TREASURE OF PRIAM*' 37
without the help of my dear wife, who stood at my side, ready to
pack the things I cut out in her shawl, and to cany them away.
Finally, when the last object had been taken to their hut,
the two discoverers, feeling like naughty children on some con-
spiratorial adventure, walked with careful unconcern to their
hut atop the mound, locked the door, and then spread out the
treasure before them.
The loveliest of all the objects, far outshining the rest, were
two magnificent gold diadems. The largest of these consisted of
a fine gold chain, intended to be worn round the crown of the
wearer's head, and from which hung seventy-four short, and
sixteen longer, chains, each made up of tiny heart-shaped plates
of gold. The "fringe" of shorter chains rested on the wearer's
brow; the longer chains, each ending in a small Trojan idol,"
hung down to her shoulders. Thus her face would be framed in
gold (see Plate 3). The second diadem was similar, but the
chains were suspended from a narrow band of sheet gold, and
the side chains were shorter, and evidently meant only to cover
the temples. In the first diadem alone there were 16,353 separate
gold pieces, consisting of tiny rings, double rings, and lancet-
shaped leaves. In both articles the workmanship was rare and
There were also six gold bracelets, a gold bottle, a gold
goblet weighing 601 grams, a goblet of electrum and a large ves-
sel of silver which contained, beside the diadems, sixty gold
earrings, eighty-seven hundred small gold rings, perforated
prisms, gold buttons, small perforated gold bars and other
trinkets. Vases of silver and copper, and weapons of bronze,
completed the hoard.
But Schliemann's eyes kept returning to the shining diadems.
This fifty-year-old merchant, who, as a child, had dreamed of
Trojan treasure, sat running the golden chains through his fingers,
watched by the lovely Greek girl who was his wife. Sophia was
twenty now, and her dark beauty had reached maturity; she
seemed at that moment the embodiment of the "white-armed
Helen" for whom Greeks and Trojans had joined in battle near
this very spot; and surely this was none other than Priam's
treasure. So his imagination raced on, as, trembling, he placed
38 THE BULL OF MINOS
on his wife's brows the glittering diadems which, he believed at
that moment, had once adorned Helen herself.
From now on, let the scholars scoff, he was convinced that
Homer would lead him to the treasures of the pre-Hellenic world.
"Since/* he wrote, T found all the objects together or packed
into one another on the circuit wall, the building of which Homer
ascribes to Neptune or Apollo, it seems certain that they lay in
a wooden chest, of the kind mentioned in the Iliad as having been
in Priam's Palace. It seems all the more certain, since I found
close to them a copper key about four inches long, the head of
which, about two inches in length and breadth, bears a very
marked resemblance to the big key of an iron safe." ( This "key,"
the copper object which had first attracted Schliemann's atten-
tion, was later found to be a bronze chisel.) And he continued:
"Some member of Priam's family packed the treasure in the chest
in great haste and carried it away without having time to with-
draw the key, but was overtaken on the wall by the enemy or the
fire, and had to leave the chest behind, where it was immediately
covered to the depth of five or six feet with red ash and the
stones of the neighbouring Palace/*
Having explained, to his own satisfaction, how the treasure
got there, his next problem was to get it out of the country. Ad-
mittedly, permission to dig had only been granted him on condi-
tion that half of everything he found be handed over to the Turk-
ish Government. But now that he had these precious things in
his hands, he could not bring himself to hand over even a part of
them to people who he believed would not appreciate their
unique archaeological value, but would almost certainly melt
them down for the sake of the gold. But customs examinations
were less rigorous in those days, and without much difficulty the
excavators managed to smuggle the whole of the Trojan Treasure
away from the Turks to Athens.
But now an aggravating problem arose. He had the treasure,
but how could he enjoy the glory of his discovery unless the
learned world was told? And if the scholars knew, then so would
tiie Turks. Schliemann made his plans. He announced his dis-
covery, and allowed a number of responsible people to inspect
THE "TREASURE OF PRIAM" 39
the objects, so that there could be no doubt that he was telling
the truth. But when the inevitable happened, and his house in
Athens was searched through the agency of the Turkish ambas-
sador, nothing was found. The treasures were safely hidden
away in baskets and chests, in barns and stables, in the homes
and on the farms of Sophia's many relatives. It was a stratagem
worthy of Odysseus.
But for the time being it put a stop to his archaeological
work. The Greek Government, sycophantic towards the Turks,
gave him no support. Indeed, the Director of the University
Library denounced him as a smuggler, and even went so far as
to accuse him of obtaining his finds, not under the soil of the
Troad, but from the antique dealers. The authenticity of his
Trojan discoveries was doubted, and when he applied to the
Greek Government for permission to dig at Mycenae, in the
Peloponnese, difficulties were placed in his way. First he was told
that under Greek law no one was allowed to keep Greek antiq-
uities, even for life. "Alter the law, then!" said Schliemann, a
suggestion which was coldly received. He offered to give the
whole of his discoveries, including Trojan treasures, to the Greek
nation after his death if he could keep what he found during his
lifetime. Still the authorities were adamant. Then, in 1874, he
made a compromise suggestion offering almost the same terms,
i.e., everything to go to Greece after his death provided he could
keep part of his finds during life.
Sure that the Government would accept this offer, Schlie-
mann and his wife paid a two-day preliminary visit to Mycenae
to survey the site. But so alarmed were the officials at the Ger-
man's alleged powers as a discoverer of treasure, that a local
busybody from Nauplia was sent hotfoot after the couple to
examine their luggage and see that they had spirited nothing
away. "This man is a swindler," said the Director of the Archaeo-
logical Service, adding that Schliemann was quite capable of
finding treasures at Mycenae (presumably without digging for
them), then mixing them with his Trojan discoveries and smug-
gling them out of the country.
When the official found nothing in Schliemann's suitcase but
a few potsherds, he apologized, but the great man was furious.
He would leave Greece, he threatened. He would dig in Italy, or
40 THE BULL OF MINOS
in Russia, where he would be treated with honor and dignity,
and his services to archaeology would be appreciated. Sophia,
anxious to remain in her own country, pleaded with him to stay,
and eventually the Government concluded an agreement which
allowed Schliemann to dig at Mycenae under the supervision of
the Archaeological Society of Greece, at his own expense, and on
condition that he hand over all he found. The sole concession
they would grant was exclusive right of reporting on his discov-
eries for a period not exceeding three years. He had to accept.
However, two years were to pass before he was ready for
the attack on Agamemnon's citadel. He had first to fight a law-
suit with the Turks, which he lost, and was ordered to pay ten
thousand francs compensation. Instead he sent five times that
amount to the Ministry at Constantinople, hoping thereby to win
over the authorities into allowing him to continue his Trojan
excavations. For the time being there was no response, but Schlie-
mann could afford to wait. Meanwhile his book Trojan Antiquities
was published, prefaced by the brave but over-optimistic an-
... if the people are disappointed in their expectations . . . and
consider that Troy was too small for the great deeds of the Iliad,
and that Homer exaggerated everything with a poet's freedom, they
must, on the other hand, find a great satisfaction in the certainty now
established that the Homeric poems are based on actual facts.
But Schliemann's sanguine belief that he had found the
Palace of Priam and the Scaean Gate had aroused the scepticism
of professional scholars, and as Schuchhardt said later in his au-
thoritative work on the excavations, "the final conclusion of sober
thinkers was that even if a primeval settlement did exist on
Hissarlik, its ruins did not correspond to the great period de-
picted by Homer. Hissarlik could scarcely have been the capital
of the land; and therefore, until further excavations should take
place, Bounarbashi, defined by such acute and varied arguments,
must still be accepted as Troy." As we shall see later, the "sober
thinkers" were wrong, though at that time one can hardly blame
them for refusing to change their opinions.
Through influential friends in Constantinople, Schliemana
eventually obtained, in April, 1876, a firman (permit) to re-
THE "TREASURE OF PRIAM" 41
commence his excavations at Troy, but he had not reckoned
with the Oriental genius for organizing delay. For two months
he was detained at the town of Dardanelles, under the pretext
that the firman required confirmation. When at last he was al-
lowed to begin, the local Governor, Ibrahim Pasha, sent along to
Hissarlik a commissioner who did all in his power to annoy him.
It was just one more example of the petty persecution which, in
every age, genius has to suffer from Jacks-in-office. Schliemann
retaliated by giving up his excavations and writing a violent
letter to The [London] Times to show how the attitude of the
Pasha conflicted with the interests of culture. Very soon Ibrahim
found himself removed to another province.
But when, in October, 1876, Schliemann received this pleas-
ing intelligence, he was no longer interested in Troy. For, in a
lonely valley in the Peloponnese, he had just made a discovery so
important that it transcended his Trojan triumphs. This time even
the most sceptical scholars were forced to take notice. Through-
out the civilized world, in university combination rooms, in
learned journals and famous newspapers alike, another Homeric
name had become the focus of interest Mycenae.
Watchman: I pray the gods a respite from these toils,
This long year's watch that, dog-like, I have kept,
High on the Atridan's l battlements, beholding
The nightly council of the stars, the circling
Of the celestial signs, and those bright regents,
High-swung in ether, that bring mortal men
Summer and winter. Here I watch the torch,
The appointed flame that wings a voice from
Telling of capture; thus I serve her hopes,
The masculine-minded who is sovereign
here. . . .
So begins Aeschylus's great tragedy, Agamemnon surely one of
the most dramatic beginnings ever devised by any playwright.
From his lookout point high above the citadel of Mycenae, the
tired watchman gazes down the dark valley to the sea and the
mountains beyond. From those distant peaks he waits for the
gleam of beacon fires by which the Greeks had arranged to signal
to their homelands the fall of far-off Troy.
Nine years have rolled, the tenth is rolling,
Since the strong Atridan pair
Menelaiis and Agamemnon
Sceptred kings by Jove's high grace . . .
Sailed for Troy.
. , sing the Chorus. Then the beacon is seen shining, and the
watchman hails it wildly.
1 Agamemnon and Menelaiis were the sons of Atreus, hence they were
often called "the Atridae." "The Atridan" here referred to is Agamemnon.
GOLDEN MYCENAE" 43
AD hail, them cresset of the dark! fair gleam
Of day through midnight shed, all haill bright father
Of joy and dance in Argos, hail! all hail!
Although Aeschylus was writing in the classical period of
Greece, in the fifth century B.C., he took his plots from that an-
cient Epic Cycle mentioned in an earlier chapter; in particular
from the cycle which went by the popular name of "The Returns"
describing the adventures of the Achaean heroes when they
sought to return home after the sack of Troy. Of these "Returns"
the most famous was that of Agamemnon, "King of Men," and
Lord of Mycenae, who was murdered by the treachery of his
Queen, Clytemnestra, and her lover, Aegisthos. Warned by the
watchman of her lord's return, she laid her plans to destroy
Agamemnon, in revenge for his having sacrificed their daughter,
Iphigeneia, to the gods to obtain fair winds for Troy. On their
return the unsuspecting King and his companions were killed at
a banquet, though one version of the story states that Cly-
temnestra slew Agamemnon in his bath.
In the times of the later Greeks and Romans, when the an-
cient epics were regarded, not as legends, but as authentic his-
tory, Mycenae was confidently accepted as the scene of the mur-
ders. Although it had fallen into ruin, it still retained its "Cyclo-
pean" walls and huge, empty "beehive" tombs, which were oc-
casionally visited by Greek and Roman travellers. For example,
the Greek historian Pausanias, who lived in the second century
after Christ, saw Mycenae and has left a description.
. . , parts of the wall are still preserved as well as the gate over which
the lions stand. These also they say are the work of the Cyclopes who
built the wall for Proteus at Tiryns. In the ruins of Mycenae there is a
fountain called Perseia and underground buildings of Atreus and his
sons where their treasures were. There is a tomb of Atreus and there
are also tombs of all those whom Aegisthos murdered on their return
from Troy after entertaining them at a banquet. . . . Another is the
tomb of Agamemnon, one of Eurymedon the charioteer, and one of
Teledamus and Pelops for they say Cassandra gave birth to these
twins and that while they were still infants Aegisthos killed them with
their parents and one of Electra. . . . Clytemnestra and Aegisthos
were buried a little outside the wall, for they were not deemed worthy
44 THE BULL OF MINOS
of burial within it, where Agamemnon lies and those who were mur-
dered with him [my italics].
I have italicized the last phrase because it was the crux of
Schliemann's triumph at Mycenae. He, of course, was minutely
familiar with all the epical and classical references to the citadel
of the Atridae. He had noticed, for example, that whenever
Homer mentions Mycenae, he usually accompanies it with an
epithet which has been variously translated as "rich in gold"
. . . "golden" . . . and "opulent." Homer's conventional epithets
a familar feature of epic poetry are extremely well chosen
(Schliemann had had good reason to remember "windy Troy").
Therefore, if the poet had called Mycenae "golden,** he must have
had good reason; and if the gold was still there, Heinrich Schlie-
mann would find it. So, in August, 1876, he appeared in that re-
mote, windswept valley which slopes down to the plain of Argos,
made his headquarters in the nearby village, recruited his work-
men and began to dig.
The main elements of the Mycenaean scene, as Pausanias
saw them, as Schliemann saw them and as we can still see them
today, are these:
(a) A narrow valley, sloping up from the plain of Argos and the
sea, which is to the south, to a chain of hills on the north.
Through these hills passed roads to Corinth and other northern
(fe) Near the top of the valley, between two high hills, is a much
lower hill, but steep-sided and crowned with the ruins of a
massive ring of walls. "Crowned" in this case is not a cliche,
but precisely describes the way this knob of a hill "wears" the
walls like a crown on a human head. The small area within the
walls, steep, but with the top shaved off almost flat, Schlie-
mann regarded as the Citadel, or Acropolis.
(c) On the west side, the ring of walls, which are built of huge
unmortared stones, is broken by a magnificent gateway above
which stand two rampant lions carved in stone; this is the
famous Lion Gate.
(d) Part of the valley to the south of the Citadel and a large area
to the southwest of it contains "tholos" tombs, sometimes called
"Treasuries" the largest of which is the so-called "Treasury of
Atreus." These, which will be described in more detail in the
"GOLDEN MYCENAE" 45
next chapter, are large, beautiful, stone-lined chambers hol-
lowed out of the hillside in the shape of gigantic beehives,
each approached by a straight-sided entrance passage called a
"dromos." This large area in which the "tholos" tombs occur
also contained the homes of the humbler Mycenaeans who
lived outside the Citadel.
If these elements are borne in mind, the shrewdness of
Schliemann's judgment will be better appreciated; because he
was not the first man to dig at Mycenae. Lord Elgin had been
there before him, and carried off part of the pillared entrance to
the "Treasury of Atreus," which can still be seen in the British
Museum; so had Lord Sligo, and a Turkish gentleman named Veli
Pasha. But they had all dug in the wrong places.
Although no professional scholars shared Schliemann's belief
in the literal truth of the Homeric poems, they took the guide-
book of Pausanias more seriously. True, he had visited Mycenae
thirteen hundred years after the traditional date of the Trojan
War, when Mycenae was a legend-haunted ruin. Still, there was
no reason to doubt that he had been shown tombs, or at any
rate sacred areas, which local tradition ascribed to Agamemnon,
Clytemnestra and the rest. But when the scholars of Schliemann's
day were asked where these tombs could have been, they all
located them, in their imaginations, outside the walls of the Cita-
del. How, then, did they square this assertion with the last phrase
of Pausanias's description which we quoted previously?
Clytemnestra and Aegisthos were buried a little outside the wall,
for they were not deemed worthy of burial within it, where Agamem-
non lies and those who were murdered with him.
Pausanias, said the scholars, could not have meant by "the
wall" the so-called Cyclopean walls crowning the brow of the hill.
Why not? Because these walls enclosed only a relatively small
area, most of it bare rock and steeply sloping, totally unsuited for
a cemetery. No, the wall which Pausanias saw must have been a
second wall enclosing a much larger area outside the Cyclopean
walls, and which had since disappeared. No doubt the tombs
which Pausanias saw were the empty "tholos tombs" which had
been despoiled centuries before his day.
46 THE BULL OF MINOS
But this explanation did not satisfy Schliemann, who wrote:
. . . that he [Pausanias] had solely in view the walls of the Citadel,
he shows by saying that in the wall is the Lion's Gate. It is true that
he afterwards speaks of the ruins of Mycenae, in which he saw the
fountain Perseia and the treasuries of Atreus and his sons, by which
latter he can only mean the large treasury described above, which is
indeed in the lower city, and perhaps some of the small treasuries in
the suburbs. But as he again says further on that the graves of Cly-
temnestra and Aegisthos are at a little distance outside the wall . . .
where Agamemnon and his companions reposed, there cannot be any
doubt that he had solely in view the huge Cyclopean walls as he saw,
and not those which he did not see ... he could not see the wall of
the lower city, because it had been originally only very thin, and it
had been demolished 638 years before his time. 2 . . . For these de-
cisive reasons I have always interpreted the famous passage in
Pausanias in the sense that the five tombs were in the Acropolis. 3
It may well have been Schliemann's decision to dig in such
apparently barren ground that persuaded the Greek Government
to let him dig at all. The Greek Archaeological Society, which
advised the Government, was known to be jealous of him, fearing
that he might rob them of the glory which should be theirs. But
when the crazy foreigner showed that he was going to dig where
nothing could possibly be found, they smiled behind their hands
and gave him permission. Even so, the Society appointed an
ephor (superintendent), one Stamatakis, to watch over him and
see that he kept to the Society's conditions that he should em-
ploy only a limited number of men at a time, so that the ephor
could watch what was going on, and hand over everything he
He began his excavations in the neighborhood of the Lion
Gate. Sophia was with him, of course, and they had under their
supervision only sixty-three workmen at first. He chose this area
because test shafts he had previously sunk there showed a good
depth of soil, and besides, he had struck two Cyclopean house
walls, an unsculptured slab resembling a tombstone, and a num-
9 When Mycenae was sacked by the Argives in 469 B.C.
1 It has since been discovered that there is another Grave Circle outside
the wall. See Appendix "A".
"GOLDEN MYCENAE*' 47
her of female idols and cows of terra-cotta. He had a hard job
getting through the Lion Gate, which was obstructed by heavy
stones. On the inside, to the left, he found a small chamber, "un-
doubtedly the ancient doorkeeper's habitation . . . only 4J feet
high, and it would not be to the taste of our present doorkeepers;
but in the heroic age, comfort was unknown, particularly to
slaves, and being unknown it was unmissed."
Then he began to dig in the area behind the Lion Gate,
within the Citadel itself; he unearthed walls, some evidently of
late date, which, in his ruthless way, he wanted to clear away to
get at the older structure. At this point the battle with Stamatakis,
the ephor, began. The latter *s letters to his superiors were full of
A few days ago he found a wall superimposed on another wall,
and wanted to pull down the upper one. I forbade it, and he stopped.
Next morning, when I was not there, he had the wall pulled down
and the lower one exposed.
When the cphor complained to Sophia, she told him sharply
that her husband was a learned man who knew what he was do-
ing, and that he, Stamatakis, was not a learned man, and would
be well advised to keep his mouth shut. More workmen were
enrolled, against the rules laid down by the Society, and though
this enabled the work to proceed more rapidly, it also meant that
Stamatakis could not see what was going on everywhere at the
same time. His letters become more and more agitated. . . .
If we find Greek or Roman vases, he looks at them in disgust and
lets them fall. . . . He treats me as if I were a barbarian. ... If
the Ministry is not satisfied with me, I beg to be recalled. . . .
But by now Schliemann had made a most significant dis-
covery. At a distance of 40 feet within the Lion Gate, and not far
from the encircling Cyclopean walls, he had dug a trench 113 feet
square, and had begun to disclose a circle of upright slabs, 87
feet in diameter. The ground within the circle had been levelled
in ancient times, and within this space the excavators found an
upright stone stele like a gravestone. This slab had been carved,
but was so badly damaged that the subject of the sculptured re-
48 THE BULL OF MINOS
Eef could not readily be made out. But soon another sculptured
gravestone was unearthed . . . and yet another. These were in
better condition, and clearly showed warriors in chariots.
Soon afterwards, Schliemann found a circular stone altar, pro-
vided with a large opening in the form of a well. Schliemann de-
cided that this was intended to allow the blood of sacrifice to be
offered to the dead below. He also announced that the scenes of
the stelae represented Homeric warriors, that the circle of stone
slabs had enclosed the agora (town meeting place) and that be-
low the stelae, though perhaps at some depth, must be graves.
Under the fierce July sun, with dust in their nostrils and sweat in
their eyes, the workmen toiled on. And while Heinrich and
Sophia watched their men, the aggrieved little ephor, half dead
with fatigue, tried to keep an eye on them all.
Still more gravestones were unearthed, some sculptured
with scenes of hunting or battle, or decorative designs; others
quite plain. Carefully these were removed as the earth and
loose rock were dug away from them; then, as the toiling work-
men dug deeper, they found still earlier stone monuments, below
the level at which the gravestones had stood. By this time they
had dug through the thick layer of surface and were down to
the solid rock. And then came a thrilling moment for Schliemann
and his wife. At one point the edge of a cutting was revealed.
Spades cleared away the last remnants of surface soil, and there,
without a doubt, was the beginning of a vertical shaft going down
into the rock to what depth they did not yet know. They looked
at each other in excitement and triumph. They had found the
first of the shaft graves.
Watched anxiously by Heinrich, Sophia, and the ephor, the
workmen carefully removed the soil, each shovelful of which was
examined for any telltale sign. The men were out of sight, fifteen
feet below the level of the rock and still digging, when Sophia's
sharp eyes caught a bright gleam in the soil. She picked up a
tiny object and wiped away the clay. It was a gold ring.
It was too risky to let the workmen dig any further, so they
were immediately dismissed. They shambled out through the
Lion Gate, chattering and speculating among themselves; and
the two discoverers, with the ephor, Stamatakis, watched them
as they moved down the valley road. From now on the three of
"GOLDEN MYCENAE" 49
them had to work alone whenever they came to the final clearing
of a grave (for this was only the first of several). They worked
on their knees with pocket knives, delicately scraping away each
layer of soil; and as Heinrich was now in his middle fifties much
of this task fell to his young wife.
Those who wish to enjoy the full flavor of Schliemann's My-
cenaean saga must read his great book, Mycenae and Tiryns,
which is fascinating in both its archaeological detail and its
wealth of personal anecdote. Here I can only dwell on the more
dramatic moments of those few weeks in the summer of 1876,
when the educated world followed Schliemann at Mycenae with
as much avidity as a later generation followed Howard Carter
at Tutankhamun's tomb. Schliemann and his wife found five
graves in all, and Stamatakis a sixth all contained within the
ring of stone slabs which Schliemann had thought was an agora,
but which was in reality a "Grave Circle" specially built to mark
off the cemetery as a holy place.
Each of these graves was a rectangular shaft, varying in
depth from approximately three feet to fifteen feet, and in length
from approximately nine to twenty feet. In these sepulchres were
the remains of nineteen people, men, women, and two small
children. Many of these bodies were quite literally laden with
gold. To quote Professor Wace's summarizing description, in his
On the faces of the men lay golden masks and on their chests
golden breast plates. Two women wore golden frontlets and one a
magnificent gold diadem. The two children were wrapped in sheet-
gold. By the men lay their swords, daggers, drinking cups of gold
and silver and other equipment. The women had their toilet boxes
of gold and dress pins of various precious materials and their clothes
were decked with golden discs ornamented with bees, cuttle fish,
rosettes, and spirals. . . . This was indeed one of the richest archaeo-
logical discoveries ever made.
Rich it certainly was, but far from barbaric in its magnifi-
cence. More remarkable than mere weight of precious metal was
the brilliance of the art which the treasures revealed; an art of
such vigor and maturity that it could have been produced only
by a long-established civilization. Among the most lovely objects
50 THE BULL OF MINOS
were two bronze dagger blades, inlaid in gold with designs in
intaglio. One showed a lion hunt, with a wounded beast turning
on a group of spearmen carrying huge "figure-eight" shields. An-
other showed a conventionalized river scene, probably the Nile;
wild cats slunk through the papyrus plants which grew beside the
winding river, while above fluttered the startled wild fowl. On
both these dagger blades the artist had shown effortless mastery
in fitting his intricate design into the narrow space, and the crafts-
manship of the gold inlay work was superb.
Besides these particular blades, there were many others
equally beautiful, including a bronze sword blade with running
horses, a dagger blade with lions and, on the reverse side, gold
and electrum lilies. The hilts were richly ornamented with gold
leaf, and fixed to the blades by rivets of gold.
In the women's graves were golden diadems, intricately em-
bossed with circles, spirals and conventional patterns; there were
gold leaves arranged like stars (for dress ornaments), bracelets,
earrings, hairpins, and tiny human and animal figures in gold.
There were also, on bead seals and signet rings, tiny scenes in
which women appeared; slim-waisted women with elegantly
coiffured hair, and wearing full, flounced skirts like Victorian
crinolines; but there the resemblance stopped, as the tight
bodices of the women seem to have left their breasts bare.
All these precious things had lain hidden for thirty cen-
turies under that barren hillside, undisturbed by the "drums and
tramplings" of five conquests. The Dorians, the Romans, Goths,
Venetians and Turks had come, abided for a little time, then gone
their way. But Mycenae had kept its secret for thirty-five hundred
Schliemann, at the moment of discovery, did not realize just
how old these objects were. To him they were indisputably
Homeric, the triumphant justification of his faith. For him it was
a moment of supreme romance, and he revelled in it.
For the first time since its capture by the Argives in 468 B.C.
[he wrote], . . . the Acropolis of Mycenae has a garrison, whose
watch-fires seen by night throughout the whole plain of Argos carry
back the mind to the watch kept for Agamemnon's return from Troy,
and the signal which warned Clytemnestra and her paramour of his
"GOLDEN MYCENAE" 51
approach. But this time the object of the occupation by soldiery is of
a more peaceful character, for it is merely intended to inspire awe
among the country people, and to prevent them from making clandes-
tine excavations in the tombs. . .
His belief in Homer's Troy had led him to discover the
"Treasure of Priam." Now his faith in the accuracy of Pausanias
had led him to the bodies of Agamemnon and his companions.
For such he was convinced they were; nor was he alone in this
belief. Even scholars who had been sceptical before now con-
fessed that the German dilettante had a strong case. For when the
treasures of the shaft graves were examined more closely, some of
them seemed to have an unmistakable connection with the
Homeric poems. In an earlier chapter I drew attention to the big
Homeric body shield, which Aias held before him "like a tower"
and which tapped Hector's neck and ankles as he walked. On the
gold-inlaid dagger blades the lion hunters were shown holding
just such shields, shaped like a figure eight and covering the en-
tire body (see Plate 13). Schliemann pointed out another ex-
ample on a gold signet ring with a design representing a battle
The third warrior seems to have taken to flight, the rest of the
body being hidden by an enormous shield, of peculiar form, which if
the man were standing upright would cover his whole body from
head to foot, [my italics].
Generations of scholars had been puzzled by these descrip-
tions in Homer of shields for which there was no parallel in clas-
sical times, or even in Homer's own period (900-800 B.C.). Now
they were revealed for the first time.
Then, in Grave IV, Schliemann found a gold cup of most
unusual shape: a stemmed goblet with two handles on which
were two doves facing each other. From the bottom of each
handle a flat sidepiece was joined to the round base. Then the
discoverer remembered the description of the golden cup into
which old Nestor pours Pramnian wine for Machaon and him-
self (Iliad, Book XI).
It had four handles. Each was supported by two legs; and on
top of each, facing one another, were two doves feeding.
The arguments over "Nestor's Cup** have continued to this
day. The parallel is close, and yet there are important differ-
ences, e.g., the cup described by Homer has four handles, and
is much larger. But to Schliemann it was the old Pylian chief-
tain's cup (see Plate 17).
The most remarkable parallel of all, and one that no sceptic
can disprove, is provided by the Boars' Tusk Helmet. In the
Fourth Grave were found sixty boars' teeth, "of all of which
the reverse side is cut perfectly flat, and has two borings,
which must have served to fasten them to another object, per-
haps on horse-trappings. But we see in the Iliad that they were
also used on helmets. . . ." Later, Schliemann and other
archaeologists found many more examples of these ornaments,
and also small ivory plaques showing warriors wearing helmets
(probably of leather or hide) covered with slivers of boars'
tusks, exactly as found in the graves. Now consider the following
passage in the Iliad. It occurs in Book X, that wonderful night
piece called the "Doloneia," in which Odysseus and Diomedes
"of the loud war-cry" disguise themselves and set out to spy on
the Trojan camp. Their comrades lend them arms and armor:
Meriones gave Odysseus a bow, a quiver and a sword, and set a
leather helmet on his head. Inside it there was a strong lining of in-
terwoven straps, under which a felt cap had been sewn in. The
outer rim was cunningly adorned on either side by a row of white
and flashing boars tusks.
Evidently the helmet was a curiosity even in the time of the
Trojan War, for the poet says:
This helmet originally came from Eicon, where Autolycus stole
it from Amyntor son of Ormenus by breaking into his well-built house.
Autolycus gave it to Amphidamas of Cythera to take to Scandaea; and
Amphidamas gave it to Molus in return for hospitality. Molus, in his
turn, gave it to his son Meriones to wear, and now it was Odysseus's
head that it served to protect
Schliemann had to admit, of course, that he had found many
things of a type never mentioned by Homer. Among these were
three characteristic types of object which, while Schliemann
"GOLDEN MYCENAE" 53
merely notes them along with others, were very important in
relation to later discoveries in Crete. I shall therefore mention
them briefly here. First, in the Fourth Grave, Schliemann found:
A cow's head 4 of silver, with two long golden horns. ... It has
a splendidly ornamented golden sun, of two and a fifth inches in diam-
eter, on its forehead [see Plate 11]. . . . There were also found two
cowheads of very thin gold plate . . . which have a double axe be-
tween the horns.
The third and more numerous type of object were seals;
these were sometimes in the form of signet rings, sometimes
flattish beads of semiprecious stone (some scholars refer to
them as "gems"), often engraved with tiny, vividly drawn
scenes in intaglio. It was mainly these miniature scenes which
gave Schliemann and later excavators a clue to the life of the
ancient people. Some scenes were manifestly religious; others
depicted hunting and fighting. We have noted Schliemann's
description of such a scene in which the "body shield" occurs.
Here he is describing another seal, in which he fancies he sees
the fight between Hector and Achilles in Book XXII of the Iliad.
The intaglio on the following smaller ornament represents two
warriors fighting a deadly duel. The one to the left of the spectator
is a tall, powerful, beardless young man with an uncovered head,
whose loins only are covered, the rest of the body being naked. He
leans with all the weight of his body on his advanced left leg, and
with his uplifted right hand he has just plunged his double-edged
sword into the throat of his antagonist. . . . On the wounded man's
body we see a round shield with a circle of small points, probably
intended to represent the glitter of the brass [here he was wrong; the
shields were of leather]. ... I ask whether we do not see here in the
young, powerful, handsome man, Achilles, the most beautiful man
in the Greek army; and in his antagonist, "Hector of the dancing hel-
met-crest"; for, just as we see represented on this bead, Hector was
slain by Achilles by a stab in the throat [see Plate 6].
Night after night, when the day's excavation was over, and
the soldiers' watch fires gleamed on the Mycenaean Acropolis,
4 Subsequently recognized as a bull. See Cretan chapters.
54 THE BULL OF MINOS
Heinrich and Sophia would be poring over that day's discoveries,
weighing the heavy golden goblets, admiring the vessels of silver,
alabaster and faience; scrutinizing through magnifying glasses
those fascinating, puzzling scenes on the seal stones, trying to
understand this long-dead world which they had rediscovered.
For Schliemann there were no doubts that it was Homer's
world he had found the world of the Iliad. Had he not dis-
covered the tombs of Agamemnon, Cassandra, Eurymedon and
their companions, slain at that fatal banquet by Aegisthos? Who
could doubt it? Eurymedon had been a charioteer; chariots were
represented on the grave stelae. Pausanias had mentioned five
graves; Schliemann had found five graves. Cassandra was said
to have given birth to twins who were killed with their mother;
the bodies of two infants, wrapped in gold, were found in one
of the graves.
The identity of the mode of burial, the perfect similarity of all
the tombs, their very close proximity, the impossibility of admitting
that three or even five royal personages of immeasurable wealth, who
had died a natural death at long intervals of time, should have been
huddled together in the same tomb, and, finally, the great resemblance
of all the ornaments ... all these facts are so many proofs that all
the twelve men, three women, and perhaps two or three children,
had been murdered simultaneously and burned at the same time [the
graves showed signs of fires having been lit within them.]
It was in this spirit of passionate faith that he excavated
the fifth and, for him, the last grave. 5 And there, as at Troy,
he found what he ardently wished to find. Three male bodies
lay in the tomb, their richly inlaid weapons beside them, golden
breastplates on their chests and golden masks on their faces.
When the mask was removed from the face of the first man, his
skull crumbled away on being exposed to air; the same thing
happened with the second body.
But the third body, which lay at the north end of the tomb, the
round face, with all its flesh, had been wonderfully preserved under
its ponderous golden mask; there was no vestige of hair, but both
8 After Schliemann's departure Stamatakis discovered and excavated a
sixth grave, which contained two bodies.
"GOLDEN MYCENAE" 55
eyes were perfectly visible, also the mouth, which, owing to the
enormous weight that had pressed upon it, was wide open, and
showed thirty-two beautiful teeth. From these, all the physicians who
came to see the body were led to believe that the man must have died
at the early age of thirty-five.
Schliemann lifted the gold face mask from the soil and
kissed it. And that evening, while the news spread like wild-
fire through the Argolid that the well-preserved body of a man of
the heroic age had been found, the discoverer sat down and wrote
a telegram to the King of Greece. It read:
"I have gazed on the face of Agamemnon" [see Plate 12].
We have followed Heinrich Schliemann from the obscurity
of a Mecklenburg parsonage to his finest hour in the citadel
of the Atridae. In describing his successive discoveries I have
tried to be faithful to his interpretation of them; to see them
as he saw them, and not as we now understand them in the
light of later knowledge. But this book is the story of a journey
in search of truth, and Schliemann, like all pioneers, sometimes
lost his way. The time has come, therefore, to call our first halt;
to look behind at the ground we have covered and ahead at
the hills we have still to cross. We have seen Mycenae through
Schliemann's eyes. Now let us look at it for ourselves.
Back, then, to our own time, to the gravelled space in
front of "La Belle Hlene" on the morning after my arrival.
On a bench near a low-hanging pepper tree sits Orestes, looking
out towards the Vale of Argos, from whence blows the faint
smell of the sea. And ahead lies the narrow winding road to
PAUSE FOR REFLECTION
ALTHOUGH February was not quite over, the morning was clear
and sunny, the air full of the scent of thyme and the tinkle of
sheep bells. At a turn in the road I met a ring of shepherd boys,
in ragged ex-American Army overcoats, dancing rather solemnly
to the sound of a pipe.
Ahead rose the twin hills of Mount Zara and Mount Hagios
Elias sharp against the Wedgwood-blue sky; on Hagios Elias
archaeologists have found remains of a Mycenaean watchtower,
perhaps that from which Clytemnestra's watchman saw the
beacon fire. Between these two peaks I could see the lower hill
on which stood the Citadel, but at that distance it was disappoint-
ing. I had expected to see great walls clearly outlined against the
green earth; but this was not Warwick Castle or Kenilworth;
here was no soft meadowland but naked limestone. The bones
of the hill showed through their thin covering, and the spring
grass was only a faint mist of green above the grey; so that, at
a distance, walls, rock and surface boulders merged into one.
But near at hand there was wonder. On the left of the road,
where it curved round a buttress of the valley, a great stone
gateway, three times as high as a man, opened into the hillside,
approached by a deep cutting, the sides of which were also of
finely masoned stonework. I recognized it, from the triangular
opening over the gate, as the largest of the "tholos" or "beehive"
tombs, the famous "Treasury of Atreus." Entering the cutting,
called the "dromos," I paused beneath the great doorway and
looked up at the lintel.
Carved from a single piece of limestone, it weighs a hundred
and twenty tons. Five tall men lying heel to head in a straight
line would just cover its length; it is over sixteen feet wide and
PAUSE FOR REFLECTION 57
has a thickness of more than three feet. Yet somehow the
Mycenaeans had manoeuvred it onto its stone jambs without
cranes or lifting-jacks, and fitted it accurately into position, where
it has stayed for over three thousand years (see Plate 1).
Inside the tomb it was dim, cool, and reverberant; a smooth,
circular cave, rising in courses of beautifully cut blocks which
curved inwards till they met in the center; exactly like the interior
of a huge beehive. This great chamber is nearly fifty feet in
diameter at floor level, over forty-five feet high, and seems even
bigger when one is inside it. There are numbers of these "tholos"
tombs in and near the valley, though in most the roofs have fallen
in, and none are so perfectly preserved as this one. Pausanias
and other classical writers called them "Treasuries," in which it
was believed the ancient lords of Mycenae had kept their wealth.
But from interments found in similar tombs in other parts of
Greece, it is now known that they were tombs, comparable to
the Pyramids of Egypt. And though Sir Arthur Evans believed
that they were older than the shaft graves, the excavations of
Professor Wace and others have shown conclusively that they are
later; that, in fact, they date from between 1500 and 1300 B.C.
Before coming to Greece I had read Professor Wace's book
on Mycenae, the fruit of many years' patient study and excava-
tion of a site which he clearly loves. Indeed, I had begun to
suspect that his fondness for the place might have led him to
overpraise its monuments. But no one standing within that lovely
building could help but endorse his judgment on its unknown
Here, first of all, there is a definite plan showing that before a
single stone was cut or excavation begun a trained brain had consid-
ered the problems involved and found a solution. The plan of the
tomb reveals clear thinking and a definite intention as well as bold
imagination. Furthermore it reveals that the mind behind the plan
had also calculated weights and thrusts and stresses and taken the
necessary steps to counteract them. The purpose of the tremendous
hundred-ton lintel, the oblique jointing system in the setting of the
threshold, the accuracy of the building, all show that an intellect was
at work. This unknown master of the Bronze Age who designed and
built the Treasury of Atreus deserves to rank with the great architects
of the world.
58 THE BULL OF MINOS
To which I would add a personal observation, for what it
is worth. Travel in Egypt and the Near East had familiarized
me with many ancient buildings, so that almost automatically
I had come to regard any great structure earlier than 1000 B.C.
as Oriental. But here, on European soil, nearly a thousand
years before the Parthenon, someone had produced a building
grand in conception, superb in construction, graceful in pro-
portion and, to my eyes, unmistakably European in spirit.
Returning to the road, I climbed towards the Citadel. As
I drew nearer, the walls became more distinct, and I realized
with a thrill that I was not to be disappointed. At close quarters
the hill on which the Acropolis stands is much more steep than
it appears from a distance, especially on the east. The fortress
walls, called "Cyclopean" by the later Greeks, who thought that
only the Cyclopes ( giants ) could have built them, almost encircle
the hilltop, like the enceinte of a medieval castle. In all the world
there are few sights so stirring as these dark ramparts, built of
unhewn, unmortared blocks so huge and heavy that thirty cen-
turies of wind, rain, earthquake, battle and pillage have not been
able entirely to dislodge them. There they stand, pierced, on the
west side, by the proud Gate of Lions, through which passed
Agamemnon and his men on their way to Troy. Then, as now, the
wind blew in from the sea, whipping the helmet crests of the
warriors as they marched down the winding valley to the ships,
while the women watched them go.
Above the big square portal, with its great monolithic
lintel stone, two rampart lions, headless but still magnificent,
support a central pillar. This was perhaps a sacred symbol of the
Great Earth Mother, goddess of fecundity and source of all
life. The lions are the oldest monumental statuary to be found
in Europe. Passing through the gate and over the threshold,
worn by chariot wheels, I climbed the steep ramp on the left,
which wound upwards towards the peak of the Acropolis. After a
few yards I paused and looked down at the space on my right,
between the ramp and the western wall of the fortress. Immedi-
ately below me lay six open, square shafts, surrounded by a
circle of stone slabs standing to a height of several feet. I was
looking at the graves discovered by Schliemann and Stamatakis
PAUSE FOR REFLECTION 59
some eighty years ago. Grass and spring wildflowers grew where
once lay the royalty of "golden Mycenae" (see Plate 5).
Then a laborious scramble over low walls, through rooms
now open to the sky and choked with prickly oak and asphodel,
brought me to the eastern limits of the fortress, where a pointed
arch in the mighty wall overlooked the ravine. From this place,
an obvious lookout point, the Mycenaean sentry had a fine view
down the ravine and towards the sea. Only a military people
would have chosen such a site; on this side the steep rocky sides
of the ravine made it impregnable, while on the remaining sides
the huge walls must have been impassable in the days when
spears and arrows were the most powerful weapons (see Plate 9).
How, I asked myself, could such a place be taken? Perhaps by
surprise or treachery, as in the case of Troy. But properly vict-
ualled it could have withstood a long siege.
Water it did not lack. The secret cistern from which the
Mycenaean garrison drew its supplies is still there, and, apart
from the Lion Gate, this subterranean reservoir makes a greater
impression than anything else in Agamemnon's fortress. I found
the entrance to it on the north side, not far from the Postern
Gate a smaller entrance than the Lion Gate, probably used as
a "sally port." On this side, where the sentries pacing the wall
looked northwards up the pass to Corinth, I came to a triangular-
headed arch from which a steep flight of steps began to descend
into the earth (see Plate 10). First they passed obliquely through
the great wall, until they were outside the wall and underground.
After a short horizontal section the passage turned at right angles
( to the west ) and descended by about twenty more steps until it
doubled back on itself and plunged steeply into the earth. It was
damp, and pitch black, and I counted over sixty steps as I felt
my way downward. Near the bottom I lit a heap of dried sage-
brush and, as the flames leaped up saw the glistening, arched
walls of the tunnel, and right at my feet a square-shaped stone
shaft, filled to the brim with clear water.
This cistern, nearly twenty feet deep, was the secret water
supply of the garrison, which they could use in time of siege.
The water is fed to it by earthenware pipes from the same spring,
Perseia, which the Greek traveller Pausanias saw seventeen hun-
60 THE BULL OF MINOS
dred years ago; but the cistern and its approach tunnel, according
to Professor Wace's estimate, were fifteen hundred years old when
Pausanias came here. And the same spring which supplied the
Mycenaeans still provides water for the modern village of Char-
Returning to the surface, I climbed higher still, up steep
winding paths past ruined walls, till I came, breathlessly, to the
highest point, the site of the Palace itself, of which, alas, prac-
tically all that remains are a few walls of the Great Hall or
"Megaron." The rest has slipped down the hillside. But it was
possible to make out the foundations of the Outer Court, on one
side of which was the entrance porch leading to the Megaron
itself. Readers of the Odyssey will remember that when Tele-
machus pays a visit to Menelaiis to discover news of his father,
he sleeps under the porch:
And so Prince Telamachus and Nestor's royal son spent the night
there in the forecourt of the palace, while Menelaiis slept in his room
at the back of the high buildings and the lady Helen in her long robe
by his side.
Just such a porch and forecourt lay before the Hall of Aga-
memnon, Menelaiis's royal brother.
Within the hall itself, now a platform of stone open to the
sky, I found the four bases of the pillars which had supported the
roof; near these pillars, according to Homer, the King had his
High Seat, and between them was the hearth on which the fire
burned in winter. It was the floor of this courtyard and hall
which Clytemnestra adorned with royal purple in honor of her
husband's return, according to the story as told by Aeschylus.
Spread purple where he treads!
the Queen commands.
Fitly the broidered foot-cloth marks his path
Whom justice leadeth to his long-lost home
With unexpected train, . . .
On the far side of the court are the foundations of a small
room which may one be allowed to fancy was the bathroom
PAUSE FOR REFLECTION 61
in which the King was done to death? At Knossos, we know, such
bathrooms existed. Lured by her flattery of the purple cloths, not
suspecting her long-maturing hate, Agamemnon was struck
Not with a random inconsiderate blow,
But from old Hate, and with maturing Time.
Here, where I struck, I take my rooted stand,
Upon the finished deed. . . . Here, Agamemnon lies
My husband, dead, the work of this right hand
The hand of a true workman. Thus it stands.
Among the spring grass and the worn grey stones grew tiny
scarlet anemones, like splashes of fresh blood. I had reached the
end of the first part of my pilgrimage. Tired after my climb, I sat
down and looked around me.
On every side rose mountains. Behind me Mount Hagios
Elias stood grandly against the pale sky. Far off to the south,
beyond range upon range of intervening peaks, beyond the Bay
of Argolis, rose the snow-crested ridge of Mount Parnon, a giant
in a land of great mountains. At my feet the land fell away gently
in terraces, in which the delicate green of vetch alternated with
bands of terra-cotta. Here and there, symmetrical rows of olive
trees marched along the lower slopes, accented in places by the
darkly vertical cypresses. And beyond lay the fertile Argive Plain
"Argos, home of lovely women/' as Homer described it, when
he was not calling it "horse-rearing Argos." The air was still,
save for an occasional puff of wind which brought with it the
song of a shepherd boy on one of the far-off slopes, or the sound
of his pipe. Here was the landscape of the Peloponnese at its
loveliest, warmed by the first breath of spring.
Resting there, I reflected on the many developments in
Greek archaeology since Schliemann dug there so many years
ago. Some of his early views he corrected himself in his own life-
time. Others had to be modified after his death, when new knowl-
edge had been gained. Schliemann would have been the first to
approve of these changes. He knew that archaeological truths
must inevitably be expressed in theories which represent the
most feasible explanations from available evidence. But every
62 THE BULL OF MINOS
year, new facts are disclosed, a dated inscription here, a piece
of potsherd there, or perhaps the result of a piece of solid re-
search between four study walls. If the theory is soundly based,
it still stands. If not, it collapses, or has to be modified. But there
is always a gain in truth.
Was Schliemann right in believing that the bodies in the
shaft graves were those of Agamemnon and his companions? Alas,
no! Assuming Agamemnon to have been an historical personage,
he would have lived round about 1180 B.C., the traditional date
of the Trojan War (since confirmed by archaeology). But it is
now known that the shaft-grave interments were much earlier,
roughly between 1600 and 1500 B.C. We know this because, since
Schliemann's day, discoveries on scores of "Mycenaean" sites in
Greece and the islands have enabled scholars to develop a sys-
tem of "sequence dating" principally by means of pottery. It
would take too long to explain exactly how this is done, but at
the risk of oversimplification I will try to get as near the truth
as possible in a few sentences.
As we shall see later, Mycenae seems to have been the center
of an empire extending over a large part of the Aegean; and many
"Mycenaean" and "proto-Mycenaean" sites have been unearthed.
Where a site has been in long occupation, it is possible to trace
the development of a culture by studying the pottery and other
objects found in successive layers; the lowest obviously being the
earliest, and the highest the most recent. For example, if one
particular type of pottery is always found within the same strata,
on dozens of different sites, and does not appear in lower or
higher strata, then it clearly belongs to one chronological period.
But how can one apply a date to such a period, when the people
of prehistoric Greece left no dated inscriptions which can be
read? Fortunately for archaeology some of this early Aegean
pottery found its way into Egyptian tombs, which can be dated.
Once having been able to date certain layers by the presence of
pottery found in "datable" Egyptian tombs, it was possible to
date, very approximately, the objects found in layers above, be-
tween and below the dated layers. Even so, the dating is in-
evitably far less precise than Egyptian chronology.
PAUSE FOR REFLECTION 63
But Schliemann's mistake was revealed long before this sys-
tem of comparative dating had come into general use. In fact, it
was discovered by his own assistant, the brilliant young Professor
Dorpfeld, who did so much to bring more scientific methods into
Schliemann's later excavations. The error might have been de-
tected by the master himself if he had not been so passionately
anxious to prove that the bodies had all been buried at the same
time. He found the corpses lying on beds of pebbles at the bot-
tom of the shafts, covered with a mass of clay and stones which
he naturally assumed had been thrown into the graves after the
burials. "The sides of each grave were lined with a wall of small
quarry stones and clay, which has been preserved up to different
heights; in the fifth grave it still reached seven feet eight inches/'
writes Schuchhardt. "Several slate slabs were leaning against this
wall; others were lying crossways or slanting over the bodies. Dr.
Schliemann saw in them the revetment of the clay walls" (my
italics). These slate slabs were to prove very important later.
The bodies lay within a few feet of each other, each laden
with and surrounded by arms and ornaments. They must all
have been buried at the same time, argued Schliemann, since it
would have been impossible to dig down through the superin-
cumbent earth to introduce a later burial without disturbing
those already lying there. That seemed logical enough.
But in certain of the graves Schliemann found what he
described as "little boxes of stout sheet copper," filled with wood
in fair preservation, and fastened all round by a number of strong
copper nails. He could not make out what these had been, and
finally suggested that they might have been headrests. They
were put into the Museum at Athens with the rest of the treas-
Years later, when Dorpfeld was working for Schliemann, the
young man began to reflect on the still-unsolved problem of the
shaft graves. Did the bodies represent a simultaneous interment
or the successive burials of a dynasty? He read and reread
Schliemann's descriptions of the graves as he had found them.
Then he noticed the reference to the "slate slabs" which Schlie-
mann had found leaning against the wall, and which he thought
had been "the revetment of the clay walls." A thought struck
him, and he asked the Doctor a few questions.
64 THE BULL OF MINOS
"Those slabs," he asked, "how were they placed when you
"Against the sides of the graves."
"Flat against the sides?"
"No, some were leaning against the sides. One was lying
across a body."
When Dorpfeld heard this, he became more suspicious. He
went again to the Museum and examined those "little boxes of
sheet copper" which Schliemann has thought were headrests.
They were full of decayed wood held in place by copper nails.
Then he realized what had happened. Originally those slabs of
slate had served to roof the graves, which had not been filled in
with earth. Baulks of timber had been laid across the lip of each
tomb, the ends resting on the ground being strengthened by
copper sheaths Schliemann's "boxes." The slabs of slate had
rested on top of the baulks, so that originally each grave had been
a family vault, in which it would have been quite possible to
make a number of separate interments without disturbing the
others. Years, perhaps centuries, after the last of the dynasty had
been laid in this tomb, the timber baulks had rotted away, and
the slabs, pressed down by the earth which had accumulated
above, crashed down onto the bodies (which accounted for the
crushed condition of several). This had not been noticed by
Schliemann, anxious as he was to believe that all the bodies had
been buried simultaneously, but the "boxes" gave the game away.
Later, when more had been learned of Mycenaean and
Minoan art, it became clear that the objects found in the shaft
graves did not all belong to the same period; that, in fact, there
were subtle differences indicating that the burials had extended
over roughly a century. Certainly they were royal; the members,
perhaps, of an entire dynasty. But to Agamemnon, had he lived,
they would have been as ancient as the Tudors are to us. He
himself is more likely to have been buried in one of the great
"Tholos* tombs in the valley; one likes to think he lay in the
finest of all, that "Treasury of Atreus" which is sometimes called
the Tomb of Agamemnon.
But what of the tradition cited by Pausanias, who said the
tombs lay within the Citadel, where indeed they were found?
I think the answer is that there was in Pausanias's time a strong
PAUSE FOR REFLECTION 65
local tradition that royal personages lay within the Citadel, but
it seems to me unlikely that he ever saw their gravestones. 1 The
shaft graves were more than 1,500 years old when he came to
Mycenae, and during much of that time it had been a deserted
ruin. In all parts of the world neglected tombs have invariably
attracted the plunderer. Is it likely that the gravestones could
have been visible in classical times and remain unrobbed? But
there still lingered in the vicinity of Mycenae an ancient folk
memory of the kings who had been buried there, though their
graves, and even their gravestones, were buried under the tons
of loose earth and rock washed down from the steep slopes of
the Acropolis above.
It was this circumstance which favored Heinrich Schlie-
mann, as Sir Arthur Evans pointed out later in his introduction
to Emil Ludwig's biography of the excavator.
Excavators learn by experience that the best chance indeed the
only chance of hitting on an unplundered tomb is by digging into a
natural talus, such as is formed by the deposit of earth and debris
washed down or fallen at the foot of a declivity. But the area in which
the Shaft-Graves had been sunk answered to all these conditions. It
lay, in fact, immediately beneath the ascending ramp of the Acropolis
and its inner wall, dominated by the steep above. And it was thus,
happily inspired by the most fruitful version of the old tradition, that
he dug with such dramatic results.
Here is the second interesting parallel (the first was the
discovery of the Trojan treasure) with the finding by Howard
Carter of the tomb of Tutankhamun, half a century later. Carter,
like Schliemann, found his tomb at the foot of a slope, hidden
under the stone chippings thrown down from a later sepulchre
excavated at a higher level.
After Schliemann's departure the much-enduring Stamatakis
found the Sixth shaft grave, which did something to restore the
amour-propre of the Archaeological Society of Greece. He also
cleared the debris from the "Treasury of Atreus," leaving it as we
see it today. Then came Tsountas (1862-1902), Keramopoullos
and Rodenwaldt, all of whom made their contribution to the rev-
1 However, see Appendix "A.**
elation of Mycenaean civilization. From 1920 onwards British
scholarship, represented by the British School at Athens, con-
tinued to excavate at Mycenae, up to and since the war. 2 These
excavations, directed by Professor Wace and published in the
Annual of the School, have disclosed facts which were not avail-
able to Schliemann or his successors.
For example, Wace has shown that the prehistoric cemetery
of which the shaft graves form part originally extended beyond
the line of the Cyclopean walls, west of the Lion Gate. Between
approximately 1600 and 1500 B.C., princes and princesses of the
royal family were buried in that part of the cemetery which now
comes within the walls. They seem to have belonged to one
dynasty, and were contemporary with these kings of the early
Eighteenth Dynasty in Egypt Amasis and the early Tuthmoses.
Mycenae's greatest period was that of the last phase of the Late
Bronze Age, about 1400-1150 B.C. Of this epoch Wace says:
... all the evidence indicates that Mycenae was a strong and flour-
ishing state, the seat of a powerful dynasty with a wide dominion. It
corresponds admirably with our idea of the stronghold which was the
capital of Agamemnon, King of Men, primus inter pares of the Greek
princes before Troy and holder of the supreme sovereignty granted by
It was during this latter period that the Mycenaeans built
the Cyclopean Walls with the Lion and Postern Gates. At the
same time the burial place of the earlier kings, held in great
veneration, was surrounded by the circle of stone slabs which
Schliemann had mistaken for the agora. The slope of the ground
was levelled off, and within the circle, the gravestones were
raised, with the circular well-like altar through which the blood
of sacrifice could be poured to the heroes below. As in Egypt,
it is probable that regular offerings were made to the illustrious
dead. Later, when the citadel fell into ruin, soil washed down
from the slopes above gradually covered both the Grave Circle
and the memorial stones with their sculptured charioteers, sealing
them from curious eyes for more than thirty centuries.
Is there still any support for Schliemann's belief that the
The most dramatic discovery since Schliemann's time was made in
1952. See Appendix "A."
PAUSE FOB REFLECTION 67
Mycenaean civilization was the one described by Homer?
Answer: yes and no.
The arguments on behalf of the "eight-shaped" shield, the
Boars' Tusk Helmet, the use of bronze for weapons, and, per-
haps, "Nestor's Cup" are still accepted; indeed they are irre-
futable. Even the objection that some of Homer's shields are
round can be met by those who support a Mycenaean origin of
the poems. It is true that the shields shown on the shaft-grave
daggers are large and shaped like a figure-of-eight. But in the
remains of a late Mycenaean house near the Lion Gate was
found a fragment of a vase the famous Warrior Vase which
clearly shows Mycenaean soldiers carrying smaller, round shields
with a "bite" out of the bottom. This vase is believed to be of
the thirteenth century B.C. the period of the Trojan War. So,
said the believers, the round shields mentioned in Homer do not
in themselves prove that he lived in post-Mycenaean times.
Yet even Schliemann had to admit that there were many ele-
ments of Mycenaean life which were quite unlike that which
Homer describes. To take a few examples: the Mycenaeans
buried their dead; the Homeric heroes burned theirs. The My-
cenaeans were a Bronze Age people; Homer understood the use
of iron. Mycenaean bronze swords are rapiers designed for
thrusting; Homeric swords were sharp-edged for a slashing
Eventually even Schliemann himself was forced to admit
that the Homer who composed the Iliad could not have lived at
the time of the Trojan War. Yet he had started a controversy
which was to rage for more than half a century; nor has it ceased
even today. Hundreds of books and articles in many languages
poured from the presses of Europe and America, and learned
gentlemen fought their wordy battles with the vigor of Achilles
and Hector themselves.
But the real significance of Mycenae, and the discoveries
which followed soon after at Tiryns, was not in their resem-
blance, or lack of resemblance, to the Homeric poems. The indigo
merchant turned scholar had opened up a new world for archae-
ology. Minds accustomed to the cautious scepticism of Grote
suddenly realized that there had existed, on European soil, a
high civilization a thousand years older than the Greek. Nor was
it confined to Mycenae. Archaeologists who investigated other
sites, on the mainland and in the islands, made a significant dis-
covery. In most of the places which Homer described as having
sent contingents to the Trojan War, and which were therefore
important political centers places such as Tiryns, Orchomenos,
Lacedaemon, Amyclae there were remains of Mycenaean set-
tlements. The Catalogue of Ships in the Iliad seems to give a
fairly true picture of the political and military structure of Greece
in Mycenaean times. In a way it was exasperating. With one
hand Homer seemed to betray his devotees. With the other, he
magnificently supported them.
Gradually the Homeric side of the question became less and
less important as the further excavations proved how widespread
and how long established this ancient culture had been. But
who were these people? Where did they come from? What lan-
guage had they spoken? What could be learned about their re-
ligion and customs? Had they a system of writing and could it
be deciphered? What was their relationship with other Mediter-
These were some of the questions to which archaeologists
and historians had to apply themselves during the coming years.
Some have remained unanswered. To others partial replies can
be given, which I will try to summarize at the end of this book.
But for the present we are going back to take up the thread of
Schliemann's story after his Mycenaean glory, for he himself
was able to follow the trail of discovery a good deal further
before it was taken up by others.
"HERE BEGINS AN ENTIRELY
A FEW miles from the town of Argos, on the road to Nauplia,
stands a village. There is a caf with a few wobbly iron tables;
a jail from which, at intervals, a trumpet sounds; a few low
houses of mud brick and terra-cotta tiles; donkeys, barking dogs
and a general air of polite decay. On one side of the road is an
arm of the Bay of Argolis. On the other are the inevitable rows
of dusty olive trees, their old, gnarled feet gripping the brown,
crumbling earth. Beyond them, to the north, the land rises
gradually towards the hills where lies Mycenae,
You climb off the ramshackle bus, walk a few steps along
the village street, go past the prison, and there in front of you
stands Tiryns next to Mycenae itself, the mightiest surviving
example of a Mycenaean fortress. Although the site has not the
romantic setting of Mycenae, nor the glamour of its legend, the
place has a grim splendor which still justifies the name which
Homer gave it Tiryns of the Great Walls." From a distance, it
rides the peaceful fields like a battleship long and low and
grey, with its Acropolis breaking the outline like a gun turret.
It is 900 feet long, from 200 to 250 feet broad, and from 30 to 50
From close at hand all other impressions are crushed by
those Cyclopean walls, made of ponderous, unwrought or roughly
hewn blocks, weighing up to ten tons each. The total width of
these walls varies from between twenty-five and fifty feet. Some
are hollow, and have within them long galleries, vaulted at the
top and pierced on the outer side by triangular embrasures which,
from outside the fortress, look like black, gaping mouths. The
resemblance to a medieval castle is even more marked than at
Mycenae, the embrasures resembling gun ports; yet Tiryns was
built more than twelve hundred years before Christ. The aper-
tures were probably intended for archers, whilst the galleries
themselves must have served for covered communications lead-
ing to armories, guard chambers or towers.
If you could have been at Tiryns in 1884, you might have
seen, sitting under the shade of a wall and munching cheese and
corned-beef sandwiches, two men in shirt-sleeves. The elder, a
balding, spectacled gentleman with a high forehead and thick
moustache, was talking rapidly and making energetic gestures
to his much younger companion, who sat calmly eating, or
taking an occasional satisfied gulp from his glass of resinous wine.
Now and again he would make a note, or interject a few words
into his companion's monologue, then return to his meal.
The older man was Schliemann, now aged sixty-two. The
other was Dorpfeld, the brillant young architect whom Sir Arthur
Evans, in later years, described as "Schliemann's greatest dis-
covery." It was Dorpfeld who gradually introduced the discipline
of science into the older man's investigations, and taught him the
value of care and patience in excavation, accuracy in publication
and temperateness in controversy. "Scientific questions," he
would tell his angry employer, "cannot be settled by abuse . . .
but only by objective proof." It says much for Schliemann's
vision and essential humility that he appreciated Dorpf eld's
genius and accepted (with occasional rebellious outbursts) his
Once again Schliemann had followed his ancient authors.
Pausanias had described the walls of Tiryns as "composed of
unwrought stones, each of which is so large that a team of mules
cannot even shake the smallest one. . . ." (An exaggeration, as
the cautious Dorpfeld pointed out.) Traditionally the fortress
had been built by Proteus. Heracles is also supposed to have con-
quered it and lived within its walls for a long time hence he
is sometimes called "The Tirynthian." In classical times it had,
with Mycenae, sent four hundred men to the battle of Plataea.
In 1876, just before beginning his Mycenaean excavations, Schlie-
mann had sunk a few test pits there and brought to light "Cyclo-
pean" house walls at considerable depth, and a few clay cows and
terra-cotta "idols" similar to those he later discovered at Mycenae,
"HERE BEGINS AN ENTIRELY NEW SCIENCE" 71
But that was eight years ago, and now he had returned, not,
this time, with Madame Schliemarm, but with a skilled architect,
seventy workmen, and "forty English wheelbarrows with iron
wheels, twenty large iron crow-bars . . . fifty pickaxes, fifty
large shovels" and other formidable equipment. Already, in that
summer of 1884, they had removed hundreds of tons of earth
from the middle and upper citadels and revealed, for the first
time, the clear ground plan of an Homeric palace. Walls, door-
ways, thresholds, pillar bases were laid bare, and carefully
measured and drawn by Dorpfeld. The excavations were not
complete yet, but enough had been done to give Schliemann
For the plan of the Palace, with its Megaron, porch, court-
yards and adjoining rooms, bore unmistakable resemblances to
the Palace of Odysseus, as described in the Odyssey. True, that
building had been in Ithaca, but this was so similar to it that
it was even possible, if one allowed for a few discrepancies, to
'visualize the fight in which Odysseus slew the suitors. Schliemann
was in his element. The aging merchant-scholar with his rapidly
thinning hair and thick spectacles had reason to feel content as
he leaned his back against the ancient wall and looked across the
sunny plain of Argos. There, on the northern skyline, rose the
hills which hid Mycenae, scene of his greatest triumph only
eight years ago. But what years they had been!
First there had been his triumphal tour of England in 1877,
when thirty learned societies had vied with each other to honor
him, and he renewed acquaintance with Gladstone, whom he had
first met in 1875. This was an age when it was still not unusual
for a Prime Minister to combine statecraft with classical scholar-
ship. Gladstone's interest in Homeric studies was well known,
and Schliemann asked him to write a preface to his forthcoming
Mycenae. The Liberal leader could hardly refuse, though when
he read the German's book, he confessed to Murray, the pub-
lisher, that he was "quite worried .about it, as I am not the right
man for it." Nevertheless he contributed a lengthy and well-
reasoned introduction in which, after cautious consideration of
the available facts, he came out in support of Schliemann's view:
that the shaft graves had contained the bodies of Agamemnon
and his murdered companions.
72 THE BULL OF MINOS
When Heinrich went to England in 1877, Sophia was ill and
unable to accompany him. Convalescing in Athens, she wistfully
read her husband's enthusiastic letters, telling her that ten so-
cieties had asked him to lecture, that yesterday he had had din-
ner with Gladstone, who had carried off her photograph "so
please bring others with you" that the London Photographic
Society had paid him forty pounds for permission to take and sell
his photograph, and that "Hodge, the painter, has been after me
for weeks to paint me life-size for the Royal Academy."
Finally, in the summer, she was able to join him, and took
her seat, a grave and lovely woman of twenty-eight, on the plat-
form of the Royal Society. There, before a distinguished audience
of over a thousand people, they were each awarded a special
diploma by the Archaeological Institute. Both made speeches in
English, and fashionable ladies listened, fascinated, while Sophia
told them how for twenty-five days she and her husband had
knelt almost in the soil of the shaft graves and lifted from them,
one by one, the golden treasures of the Atridae.
Those had been heart-lifting moments, moments which al-
most compensated for the bitter attacks of the German critics,
attacks which had made Schliemann write:
In London. ... I was received for seven weeks as if I had dis-
covered a new part of the globe for England. How very different it
is in Germany. There I met only with abuse. . . .
Criticisms, some fair and unbiased, others prompted by
jealousy and malice, were to continue through Schliemann's life,
and never ceased to cause him pain. Yet, gradually, responsible
opinion came to place an ever-higher value on the German's
discoveries, especially when, in later years, he brought in trained
specialists to help him. But the legend of the publicity-seeking
mountebank died hard, and he often had reason bitterly to regret
the too precipitate publication of his early finds.
In the following year, 1878, his English triumphs were
crowned by an even greater joy; Sophia presented him with a
son, whom he named naturally Agamemnon. Seven years
earlier, when he had first begun to dig at Troy, a daughter had
been born to them, whom Schliemann had christened Androm-
ache, after Hector's wife. But now his dearest hopes were ful-
''HERE BEGINS AN ENTIRELY NEW SCIENCE" 73
filled. Before the child was more than a few hours old, the
entranced father held a copy of Homer above his head and read
aloud a hundred lines from the poet. That was Schliemann the
romantic. Schliemann the practical revealed himself at the solemn
Orthodox christening, when, just as the priest was about to im-
merse the infant, his parent darted forward, plunged a ther-
mometer into the font and checked the temperature.
In the same year he began to build for himself a mansion
in Athens, on what is now University Street. When completed, a
few years later, it was the most palatial building in the capital,
and throughout the whole of Greece few equalled its magnifi-
cence. On the roof marble gods and goddesses stood against the
blue sky. Within were pillared halls and marble staircases,
opulent but chilly, and a particularly splendid ballroom where
guests who cared to examine the frieze of putti round the walls
could see that these tiny figures represented the principal ac-
tivities of the host's life. Here some of the figures were reading
Homer and Pausanias; there were others digging and unearthing
the rich treasures of Mycenae and Troy; and who was this, a
figure in black, with horn-rimmed spectacles, gazing across the
landscape why, Schliemann himself!
On walls and staircases, above doors, within and without
the house, were inscriptions from the ancient Greek authors.
Above the great man's study were the words of Pythagoras:
All who do not study geometry, remain outside.
Other walls bore the verses of Homer and Hesiod, while,
carved on the front of the palace, in Greek letters, were the words
"Iliou Melathron" Palace of Ilios. Here Schliemann and his wife
would receive their distinguished guests from many parts of the
world, and on the ground floor, displayed in glass cases, was the
golden "Treasure of Priam'' which Heinrich and Sophia had un-
earthed from beneath the walls of Troy.
But all that was to come later. Meanwhile, as the house was
building, Schliemann paid another visit to Ithaca, where he thor-
oughly explored the island, climbed Mount Aetos, sank a few
experimental shafts at various places, but found nothing of great
interest. Then, in September, 1S78, he returned to Troy, the
difficulties concerning the firman having been temporarily solved,
though they were soon to crop up again. He recommenced dig-
ging near the point at which he had found the "Treasure of
Priam," i.e., the large building west and northwest of the Gate.
Less than a month after he had begun excavating, he uncovered
another smaller treasure of golden objects, contained in a broken
terra-cotta vessel "in a chamber in the north-west part of the
building ... in the presence of seven officers of H.M.S. Mon-
arch. . . /' Winter rains stopped work at the end of November,
so Schliemann went to Europe for a few months, returning to
the Dardanelles in February, 1879. A month later he was joined
by one of the most distinguished scientists of Europe, a man who
was to have a strong and beneficial influence on Schliemann
during the closing years of his life.
Professor Rudolf Virchow had come out at Schliemann's in-
vitation. They had already corresponded, but this was the mo-
ment when their association became close and intimate. Vir-
chow, a brilliant doctor of medicine, was almost the same age as
the archaeologist. He had gained fame in his thirties as the
founder of a new pathological system. Later, impelled by humane
and liberal convictions, he had become a member of the German
Parliament, where he had again distinguished himself, this time
as a politician. Mr. Emil Ludwig, to whose Schliemann of Troy
all later writers on Schliemann are bound to be indebted, happily
explains the reasons why these two very dissimilar spirits were
Both men had in youth stepped beyond the bounds of their call-
ing, and struck out, or at least prospected, by-paths into the world
. . . both . . . had voluntarily and disinterestedly assumed a second
burden, the one out of revolutionary sympathy, the other from ambi-
tion and an impulse towards higher tasks. . . .
. . . Intrepid, humane, and cool, Virchow was the man to sup-
port new discoveries whatever their source. He was distinguished
from other German university professors by an unbiased outlook,
which always ruled out personal questions about the origin, educa-
tion, religion, or relationship of an independent mind about whom
It was these qualities which made Virchow such a valuable
friend and ally for the impetuous excavator. His cool, scientific
"HERE BEGINS AN ENTIRELY NEW SCIENCE" 75
brain restrained Schliemann's wilder impulses, while he had the
discernment to recognize and encourage the natural genius of
the man, untroubled by scruples concerning his unacademic
background. And, as Virchow was a man of means, he avoided
the imputation of being influenced by the millionaire's wealth.
With Virchow came M. Emile Burnouf, Honorary Director of
the French School at Athens, and together the three worked
throughout the summer season, Schliemann directing the excava-
tions, Burnouf making plans, and Virchow studying the flora,
fauna and geological characteristics of the Plain of Troy, as well
as the conditions of the ruins and debris brought to light in the
course of the "dig."
Schliemann was also able to make several excursions with
Virchow into the surrounding country. They went to the dis-
credited site of Bounarbashi and took the temperature of the
springs around which so much controversy had raged, and
Heinrich was delighted when his friend agreed that the differ-
ence in temperature between one spring and another was almost
imperceptible. They climbed Mount Ida together, and found the
source of the river Scamander, which plays such a vital part in
the topography of the Iliad. By the end of the season the ex-
indigo merchant and the great scientist had become close friends,
and when, in the following year, Schliemann published his eight-
hundred-page volume Ilios, it was Virchow who contributed
. . . there stands the great hill of ruins, forming for realistic con-
templation a phenomenon quite as unique as "Sacred Ilios" for poetical
feeling. It has not its like. Never once in any other heap of ruins is a
standard given by which to judge it. ... This excavation has opened
for the studies of the archaeologist a completely new theatre like a
world by itself. Here begins an entirely new science.
Virchow, not concerned as Schliemann was with a desperate
search for Homeric parallels, could see the greater significance of
his friend's discoveries. But Schliemann, who had hollowed out
an enormous crater in the centre of the hill, was still perplexed
by the seven strata he had uncovered, and of which only the
lower layers could, in his view, possibly be Homeric. He now put
forward the belief that the Third Stratum (from the bottom),
the so-called "Burned City," was Priam's Troy, but his doubts and
perplexities are pathetically evident in the book.
. . . this petty little town, with its brick walls, which can hardly
have housed 3,000 inhabitants . . . could [it] have been identical
with the great Homeric Ilios of immortal renown, which withstood
for ten long years the heroic efforts of the united Greek army of 110,-
000 men? . . .
Only the absence of any reliable system of comparative dat-
ing by pottery prevented him from seeing that his "Homeric"
Troy, i.e., the city which had existed in 1180 B.C., was there
in front of his eyes. Had he known, he need not have looked at
the miserable prehistoric settlement which lay at the bottom
of his crater; the walls of Homeric Troy were in the upper layers l
as massive as those of their contemporaries at Mycenae and as
satisfying to his romantic imagination. He knew and admired the
walls had he not spared them when digging for deeper re-
mains? but he thought they were of the time of Lysimachus a
mere three hundred years B.C.
In 1881, he was persuaded by Virchow to present his Trojan
collection to the German nation, but only after strings had been
pulled by that adroit politician to ensure for Schliemann the
Freedom of Berlin and, among other honors, the Pour la Merite.
Schliemann could not easily forgive the sneers of the German
scholars and the scornful press attacks which had followed his
first discoveries at Troy.
He had spent the 1880 season digging in Greece, where at
Orchomenos, another Homeric site, he had uncovered a My-
cenaean "tholos" tomb which, following Pausanias, he thought
was a Treasury." But in the ensuing year he was back at Troy,
this time with young Dorpfeld, who had asked for the honor of
working for him. Dorpfeld, with his architect's training, was able
clearly to distinguish and draw plans of the complicated strata
of Hissarlik. Like Virchow, he was also able to exercise a re-
1 Dorpfeld later identified Homeric Troy as the Sixth Stratum from the
bottom. Tins was accepted until Professor Blegen dug at Troy immediately
before the Second World War. Blegen recognizes nine layers of strata, of
which No. 7A is believed to be the flios of the Trojan War.
"HERE BEGINS AN ENTIRELY NEW SCIENCE" 77
straining influence on Schliemann, and prevented him from rush-
ing into print with a very inexact plan of the excavations. "Only
by means of a correct plan/' he advised, "shall we be able to
silence our adversaries completely." Gradually the old lion was
being tamed for the good of science, and for his own good
and yet, one suspects, at the cost of much of his earlier enthu-
Sophia did not accompany him during these later seasons at
Troy, where, in the first years of their marriage, they had found
the ancient gold. Sometimes she paid him brief visits; when he
was alone he missed her greatly, and would write from his hut
on the Trojan hill:
I burn four candles, but the room is still dark, whereas your
eyes would light it up. Life without you is unbearable.
Still struggling with the eternal problem of the Trojan strata,
he was prevented for the time being from making further investi-
gations by the Turkish Government, which had now thought of a
new way to annoy Schliemann. Not far from Hissarlik was a
decrepit fort of no interest to anyone, save, perhaps, the Turkish
Army. The Government decided that the archaeologist must be
a spy, and forbade him to make further plans. Schliemann re-
turned to Athens and again enlisted the help of his powerful
friends German, British and American to work through their
Embassies in Istanbul for the downfall of the obstructive Turkish
officials. He even suggested that Bismarck should appoint an-
other German Ambassador to Turkey, as the current one was in-
sufficiently active on his behalf! In the meantime he made a senti-
mental journey to his childhood home at Ankershagen, taking
Sophia and the children with him. The miller who had recited
Homer was still alive, and had to be introduced. So was Minna
Meincke, now a fat and tearful old woman.
Then, as we have seen, came two seasons' work at Tiryns,
where he made a discovery which, while it pleased the scientific
side of his nature, dealt yet another blow to his faith in his Third
Stratum. Within the citadel of Tiryns he and Dorpfeld uncovered
the foundations of a "Megaron," which, with its pillared porch
and courtyard, was so like that described in the Odyssey as to be
unmistakably Homeric. This was great news, but it raised a
difficult problem. For at Troy, in the Sixth Stratum the layer
which Schliemann had considered to be of the third century
Dorpfeld had excavated a similar Megaron. For a moment Schlie-
mann was on the brink of discovering the truth that one of the
upper layers did represent Priam's Troy.
Priam's Troy . . . but what about "Priam's Treasure," which
he had found far below in the Second Layer the ornaments
which his imagination gave to Helen herself these wonderful
golden diadems which had hung on the brow of his young wife
on that memorable day in 1872? If this Sixth Layer was Priam's
city, then the treasure he had found could never have belonged
to Priam, but to some nameless barbarian who had lived centuries
before him. For a time he would not commit himself, but tried
to dismiss the problem from his mind.
One fact was clear; the pottery and other objects found at
Tiryns were so like those found at Mycenae as to make it certain
that the two cities were inhabited by the same race. But who
were they? Schliemann believed them to have been Phoenicians.
Others disagreed. Meanwhile the learned world examined and
re-examined the precious things from Mycenae, Tiryns and
Troy or if they could not get to the objects themselves, they
pored over the hundreds of steel engravings in Schliernann's
bulky volumes. Theories were advanced and demolished, new
theories put forward in their place. One savant said that the so-
called "gold mask of Agamemnon" was a Byzantine mask of
Christ. Others scholars, while paying tribute to Schliemann's
intuitive genius, asserted that the objects were far older than
Homer or even the Trojan War.
One such believer was a young Englishman of thirty-one
who came to see the Schliemanns in Athens in 1882. Recently
married, he had come to Athens with his wife and obtained an
introduction through his father, a well-known antiquarian whom
Schliemann had met in England. The Englishman listened
politely while Schliemann talked of Homer, but seemed only
mildly interested; what interested him most were the golden
objects from Mycenae, especially the tiny engraved bead seals
and signet rings, which he examined minutely through his keen
but shortsighted eyes. These objects so unlike the art of classical
HERE BEGINS AN ENTIRELY NEW SCIENCE*' 79
Greece, which he disliked fascinated him. In some ways they
reminded him of Assyrian or Egyptian gems, and yet there were
designs that included the octopus, which was undoubtedly
Aegean. It was puzzling.
The young man's name was Arthur Evans.
In 1886, when he was sixty-four, Schliemann, restless as ever,
was still seeking fresh Homeric sites to explore. Where could he
go now? He had torn open the mound of Hissarlik. Mycenae had
yielded up its gold. Orchomenos had been dug. Where else?
There was "hundred-citied Crete," the domain of King Minos, of
whom the historian %Taucyjji $&& .ha d ..written;
Minos is the earliest ruler we know of who possessed a fleet, and
controlled most of what are now Greek waters. He ruled the Cyclades,
and was the first colonizer of most of them, installing his own sons as
governors. In all probability he cleared the sea of pirates, so far as he
could, to secure his own revenues.
Of course, Thucydides had only been repeating a legendary
story, but Schliemann had great faith in legend and folk tradition.
And Homer had sung of the valiant spearman Idomeneus, leader
of the Cretan contingent at the siege of Troy.
... the men from Knossos, from Gortyn of the Great Walls, from
Lyctus, Miletus, chalky Lycastus, Phaestus, and Rhytion, fine cities
all of them. . . .
Also, the Odyssey contains many Cretan stories. In 1883
Schliemann applied to the Turkish Government, then ruling
Crete, for permission to dig there. Naturally his request did not
have an easy passage, but three years later, after he had finished
his work at Tiryns, he arrived in Crete.
Sir John Myres once told me that when he visited Crete as
a young man, with Arthur Evans, there was a story that Schlie-
mann, after being directed to the site of Knossos legendary
capital of King Minos had sunk upon his knees and sent up a
prayer to Idaean Zeus, offering thanks for safe guidance to die
spot. This profoundly shocked the devout Moslems and was one
reason why the German enthusiast had such difficulty in obtain-
ing permission to dig in the island. Sir John does not vouch for
80 THE BULL OF MINOS
the truth of the story, but ft accords well with Schliemann's
A few miles from Herakleion, in a valley rising towards the
mountainous interior of Crete, rises the mound of Kephala, tradi-
tional site of Knossos. Here, in 1877, the Spanish Consul had
sunk five shafts and established the existence of a building 180
feet long and 140 feet broad, but at very great depth. This was
the site which Schliemann now sought to buy. The negotiations
were complicated, and there are several conflicting stories about
them which are unimportant to our story. But the owner of the
site refused to agree to the sale of only part of his land. If the
millionaire wanted it, he must buy the whole estate with all
its olive trees for a hundred thousand francs. This was too much.
Schliemann knew that in any case he would have to hand over
all he found to the Turkish authorities, so he returned to Athens,
leaving the peasant owner in suspense.
Meanwhile England saw the great archaeologist again, when
he came to London to answer, in public debate, the criticisms of
the English architect Penrose, who asserted that Tiryns was of
much later date than Schliemann had claimed. The Englishman
was defeated and had the grace to apologize. Next Schliemann
made two trips to Egypt, the second in 1888, with Virchow.
When, in the following year, the Cretan landowner offered the
site for forty thousand francs, Schliemann was pleased but wary,
especially when he was informed that there was no need for him
to visit the island to clinch the deal. A deposit would be enough.
This was sufficient to bring out all the old merchant's commercial
cunning. He arrived unexpectedly in Crete, and discovered that
the owner of the land was trying to cheat him there were
1,612 fewer olive trees than had been stipulated. True, the site of
Knossos was still included, but this time Schliemann the business
man triumphed over Schliemann the archaeologist. He broke off
negotiations and never reopened them.
A year later, after an operation on his ear in Halle, Germany,
he was hurrying across Europe to be home for Christmas. The
winter of 1890 was bitterly cold, and the doctors had warned him
against travelling. But Schliemann longed to be home in his great
house in Athens with Sophia and the children. Although often
in pain, he continued his journey, getting out of the train at inter-
"HERE BEGINS AN ENTIRELY NEW SCIENCE" 81
vals, finding a local doctor who would treat him, and then con-
tinuing on his way. Much of his life had been spent in ships and
trains; travel was a tedious necessity, but he had the German's
sentimental love of Christmas. He must be home in time.
At Naples the pain returned, so ferociously that he was
forced to cable Sophia, asking her to postpone the Christmas
celebrations until his return. He saw a doctor, and obtained some
relief. Then, feeling better, he decided to visit the ruins of Pom-
peii, about which his father had spoken to him sixty years ago
in Ankershagen. The weather was cold, and on his return Schlie-
mann again felt the return of that fierce pain. Next day, Christ-
mas Day, when he was on his way to the doctor, he collapsed in
the street, paralyzed and unable to speak. Police took the un-
known foreigner to hospital, but as no money could be found in
his clothes, he was refused admission.
Eventually the doctor who had treated him was traced
through a paper in the sick man's pocket, and Schliemann, still
unconscious, was moved to a hotel, where a surgeon discovered
that the inflammation had spread from the ear to the brain. The
next day, Boxing Day, while doctors in an adjoining room de-
bated what should be done, Heinrich Schliemann quietly died.
His journey was ended. But his discoveries the full signifi-
cance of which he had not understood had launched other
minds on a voyage which even Schliemann could hardly have
imagined. One of these minds perhaps the greatest was that
of the young Englishman who had been so absorbed by Schlie-
mann's Mycenaean treasures when he and his wife had visited
him eight years before. Many years later, when in the full tide
of his own triumph, Sir Arthur Evans wrote of his great predeces-
I had the happiness ... to make his acquaintance on the fields
of his glory, and I still remember the echoes of his visits to England,
which were his greatest scenes of triumph. . . . Something of the
romance of his earlier years still seemed to cling to his personality,
and I have myself an almost uncanny memory of the spare, slightly
built man of sallow complexion and somewhat darkly clad wear-
ing spectacles of foreign make, through which so fancy took me he
had looked deep into the ground.
THE QUEST CONTINUES
"Out in the dark blue sea there lies a land called Crete,
a rich and lovely land, washed by the waves on every side,
densely peopled and boasting ninety cities. . . .One of the
ninety towns is a great city called Knossos, and there, for
nine years, King Minos ruled and enjoyed the friendship of
So Homer makes Odysseus describe Crete, in that famous pas-
sage from the Odyssey in which the "Cunning One" pretends to
Penelope that he is the grandson of Minos. Homer had almost
certainly visited Crete, for, with one of those topographical
details of which he is so fond, he tells us, on the same page, that
. . . put in at Amnissus, where the cave of Eileithyia is a difficult
harbour to make; the storm nearly wrecked him.
I visited that cave shortly after I landed in Crete with the
de Jongs. Piet de Jong, former architect to Sir Arthur Evans, was
Curator of the Palace of Minos at Knossos, to which he and his
wife were returning after their overseas leave. We had met in
Athens, after my return from Mycenae and Tiryns, and they had
kindly invited me to stay at the Villa Ariadne, Sir Arthur's former
home at Knossos, which he had later given to the British School
at Athens. De Jong is a quietly spoken Yorkshireman of about
fifty, with a lean, tanned face and steady eyes; he is a little taci-
turn until he has decided whether he likes you or not, but kind,
friendly and willing to give the benefit of his vast practical knowl-
edge of the Palace to anyone whose interest goes a little deeper
than tourist level. His wife, Effie, is a Scotswoman, as voluble
and vivacious as he is shy; witty, observant and wickedly intelli-
gent, she has an unending stock of stories, about archaeology
THE QUEST CONTINUES 83
and archaeologists, about Crete and the Cretans, and about Sir
Arthur Evans, the great scholar and excavator of the Knossian
Palace, whom they had both known well and greatly admired.
As we flew south over the many-islanded Aegean, I felt that
I was regretfully leaving the ghost of Heinrich Schliemann be-
hind. At Mycenae and Tiryns I had almost felt his physical
presence, so vividly is his personality associated with those
places. But in Athens I said farewell to his lively shade ap-
propriately enough, outside his fantastic palace, lliou Melathron,
which stands in University Street, opposite the airline company's
office, where I had waited with the de Jongs for the airport bus.
Schliemann's marble statues still fret the Athenian sky, though
now they look down on a street crowded with shining American
motorcars and the noisiest tramcars in the world. And even as
our aircraft soared above the beach of Phaleron, I remembered
that Schliemann used to bathe there before breakfast in the
coldest weather, even when he was quite old. "Go for walks!
Bathe!" he would say to fat, red-necked men, "or youll die of
Now I was passing into the orbit of another personality, as
strong as that of Schliemann, but much more sophisticated and
complex. When Sir Arthur Evans died, in 1941, at the age of
ninety, he had done that which no one man had ever been able
to achieve before written, alone, a new chapter in the history of
civilization. Yet, in a sense, his work was complementary to that
of Schliemann. He built on foundations which Schliemann had
laid; and for all their many differences in character and tempera-
ment, they were in three ways alike. Both were rich men. Both
were egotists of genius, accustomed to getting their own way
and using their wealth to achieve great ends. And both became
archaeologists in the middle age, 1 after successful careers in other
fields. As the plane droned on over the sea, I looked through my
notes and began to recall what I knew of Evans's career.
Arthur Evans was born in 1851, the year in which twenty-
nine-year-old Heinrich Schliemann was buying gold dust from
1 Although Evans had been keenly interested in archaeology since his
early youth, he did not excavate on a large scale until he dug at Knossos.
84 THE BULL OF MINOS
the "f orty-niners" of California. The child grew up near the sedate
little town of Hemel Hempstead in Hertfordshire, at a place
called Nash Mills. Here stood the long-established paper-
manufacturing works of John Dickinson & Company. John Evans,
Arthur's father, had married his cousin, Harriet Ann Dickinson,
whose father, John Dickinson, was then head of the firm.
The Evans and Dickinson families were closely linked by
marriage, and both had produced a number of distinguished
scholars; the tradition of learning in the family was strong. Ar-
thur's great grandfather, Lewis Evans, had been a member of
the Royal Society; so had his great uncle, John Dickinson. His
own father, John Evans, was a distinguished geologist, anti-
quarian and collector, Fellow and Treasurer of the Royal So-
ciety, and, to quote Sir John Myres, "a leading member of that
group of men including Lubbock, Tylor, Francis Galton, and
Pitt-Rivers who established the new studies of anthropology
and prehistoric archaeology on a scientific basis in this country."
Arthur grew up in an atmosphere heavy with Victorian
scholarship. In his father's study at Nash Mills were cases of flint
and bronze implements; his father's scholarly friends met often
in the comfortably ugly house beside the river, to talk and discuss
and prepare their papers for presentation to the learned societies.
In the summer Arthur and his brothers, Lewis and Norman,
went on excursions with their father, flint collecting in Britain
or France. Of his two brothers, Arthur had more in common
with Lewis than with Norman, who was gay, irresponsible and
charming, and who eventually quarrelled with his father and
went for a time to America. But both Lewis and Arthur inherited
their father's scholarly interests, and early in life Arthur acquired
the habit of collecting. Coins especially fascinated him, and in
this study he was helped, to some degree, by a physical handicap.
In Time and Chance, Dr. Joan Evans's sensitive portrayal of her
half brother, occurs this passage:
Evans was extremely short-sighted, and a reluctant wearer of
glasses. Without them, he could see small things held a few inches
from his eyes in extraordinary detail, while everything else was a vague
blur. Consequently the details he saw with microscopic exactitude, tin-
distracted by the outside world, had a greater significance for him than
for other men [my italics].
THE QUEST CONTINUES 85
It was this seeming handicap of short sight which even-
tually led Arthur Evans to Crete, and enabled him to reveal and
interpret a civilization as highly developed as that of Egypt.
Evans was able to do this because of his minute, almost micro-
scopic vision of the tiny Cretan bead seals and signet rings, the
study of which brought him at last to the Palace of Minos. But
that comes later in the story.
It would be a mistake, however, to imagine the young Evans
as a timid, myopic youngster, interested only in anthropology and
numismatics (the study of ancient coins). True, he was short
in stature and nearsighted, and at Harrow he took no interest
in games (he lampooned the "hearties" in his own satirical
magazine The Pen-Viper which was suppressed after publica-
tion of the first number). But he had a wiry, energetic frame,
swam and rode well, and enjoyed strong physical effort provided
it did not take the form of organized games, which bored him.
He loved travel especially "travelling rough" and throughout
his youth and early middle age delighted in long, adventurous
journeys, mainly on foot or on horseback, in the more primitive
parts of eastern Europe. He had courage, obstinacy, a hot temper
and a determined will.
At Harrow he tied with Frank Balfour for the Natural His-
tory Prize, for which T. H. Huxley was assessor. At Oxford,
where he was a member of Brasenose College, he read history,
and varied his Long Vacations between adventurous trips to
eastern Europe and periods of intensive study in of all places
Broadway Tower, in Worcestershire. This extraordinary "Folly"
of one of the eighteenth-century Earls of Coventry stands on the
northwestern fringe of the Cotswold Hills, overlooking seven
counties. Arthur shared the upper part of the Tower with a friend,
while the caretaker and his wife, who lived below, looked after
the two young men.
It is typical of Evans that, recognizing how similar was his
father's mind to his own, he set about being as different from him
as possible. They were both antiquarians, and they were both
collectors. But as he grew older, Arthur's antiquarian interests
diverged boldly from those of his father, and when in later life
old John Evans left him his enormous and bulky collection of
Stone Age implements and weapons, the younger man was more
embarrassed than grateful. His chief interest at the time was in
the Balkan countries, an interest which grew into an ardent pas-
sion after his first visit to Bosnia and Herzegovina 2 in 1871.
It is not an exaggeration to say that Arthur Evans fell in
love with the South Slav countries. The landscape, especially the
glorious Dalmatian coast; the architecture the fascinating mix-
ture of cultures Roman, Byzantine, Venetian, Moslem; above
all, the tough, liberty-loving people; all took his young heart. At
this period Bosnia and Herzegovina were under the heavy, brutal
hand of Turkey. There were Balkan insurrectionary movements,
bloody repressions, lootings, burnings, tortures, flights of ref-
ugees the same sickening pattern with which our own age has
made us familiar. But to young liberal intellectuals of Evans's
type such outrages were a challenge to action. Arthur (he was
then twenty) became a convinced Liberal, a follower of Glad-
stone whom his Conservative father detested and a champion
of the oppressed minorities of eastern Europe. He signalized his
arrival in Paris by buying a magnificent black cloak lined with
scarlet silk, but, as the smoke of the Franco-Prussian War had
hardly blown away, he took the advice of a friendly douanier,
who warned him that, if he wore it, he might be shot as a spy. He
put the cloak away; but it came in useful later.
In the following year he spent his vacation mountaineering
in Roumania with his brother Norman, and from there moved
into Bulgaria. Next year, 1873, he toured some of the Scan-
dinavian countries Sweden, Finland and Lapland. He was not
impressed, because, as Joan Evans comments:
To feel at home in strangeness he needed to find there a complex
civilization, and a sense of the historic past. In Lapland no ghosts
though perhaps it would be fairer to say that there were no
ghosts with whom Arthur Evans felt any sympathy.
Eighteen seventy-four saw him back in his lofty eyrie in
Broadway Tower, looking down on the rich summer wealth of
the Vale of Evesham, and working hard for his Finals. Next year
he obtained a First in Modern History, after which he went to
Gottingen for a further year's study, before applying himself to
9 Incorporated after the First World War into the new state of Yugoslavia.
THE QUEST CONTINUES 87
the problem of earning a living. He had no interest in paper
making; an academic career seemed the only alternative. He tried
for vacant Fellowships at Magdalen and All Souls, but failed to
get either, partly, perhaps, because his intransigent nature and
unpopular opinions were not acceptable to the more conservative
elements of Oxford society. For, by this time, Arthur Evans was
developing into an enfant terrible, steeped in Balkan politics.
He returned to Bosnia with his brother Lewis. At Brood they
had both been arrested as Russian spies, a situation in which
Arthur s pugnacity did not help matters. He was in Bosnia during
the insurrection of 1875; he was in Sarajevo when Herzegovina
revolted against Turkey. Both Moslem and Christian insurgents
liked him and treated him well, but his letters home were full
of biting criticism of the British Government's lukewarm attitude
to the cause of Balkan freedom. It was not unnatural that British
and other European statesmen were reluctant to jeopardize the
peace of Europe for the sake of the oppressed peoples of Bosnia
and Herzegovina, however heroic and deserving. But the young
firebrand who had lived among these peoples, seen their suffer-
ings and identified himself passionately with them, had no pa-
tience with the subtleties of Great Power diplomacy.
He produced a book on Bosnia and Herzegovina, sent a copy
to Gladstone (who acknowledged it) and was delighted when the
G.O.M. quoted his evidence on Turkish atrocities. Next year,
1877, the Great Powers again shuffled the cards and Evans's un-
happy Bosnians found their country occupied by Austria. C. P.
Scott, the great editor of the Manchester Guardian pro-Glad-
stone and anti-Turk appointed Arthur as Special Correspondent
in the Balkans, based in Ragusa. This was a job after the young
man's heart. He set off enthusiastically with a sum of money and
goods for the refugees, contributed by British sympathizers.
The next few years were the peak years of Evans's youth,
and they are fully described in Joan Evans's Time and Chance.
Here we only have time for the highlights. We catch glimpses
of Arthur exploring, at some personal risk, the country occupied
by the insurgents; plunging depths of sordid horror in the in-
fested refugee camps; seeking out and interviewing Desptovitch,
the insurgent leader, in his stronghold; swimming a flooded
river, naked, with notebook and pencils stuck in his hat; wearing
88 THE BULL OF MINOS
his red-lined cloak inside out when visiting a Moslem stronghold
(trying to look as Oriental as possible); and sending back dis-
patch after brilliant dispatch to his delighted editor. Later these
"Letters to the Manchester Guardian' were published as a book.
Nevertheless, in the midst of his political and journalistic
activities, he found time to excavate Roman buildings, explore
medieval castles, copy out old Bosnian inscriptions and to add,
as a postscript to an adventure-packed letter home, "tell Pa
IVe got a new flat celt." Archaeology and numismatics still re-
tained their hold upon him. After his adventures in the hinterland
he returned to Ragusa, more in love with the Balkans than ever.
He soon became a familiar, eccentric figure in that lovely city.
Because of his short sight he carried throughout his life a stout
walking stick, to which his family gave the name "Prodger."
Ragusans soon became familiar with Evans and Prodger the
"mad Englishman with the walking stick" who was believed to
carry with him a bag of gold. . . .
Then began a personal conflict between the young journalist
and Holmes, the British Consul at Sarajevo, who advised his
Government not to accept stories of Turkish atrocities. Evans
went out to get evidence it was on one of these dangerous
journeys that he swam an icy river, swollen with rain and melting
snow, to visit an insurgent outpost. Soon the Guardian began to
receive fully documented evidence of burned-out villages, and
lists of victims' names; evidence which even the British Consul
could not discredit. Evans won his battle.
Then war broke out between the Turks and Montenegro.
Again the young correspondent went out on his journeys, some-
times on foot, sometimes on horseback, always returning with
vivid dispatches. While in the Montenegrin highlands, covering
this story, Evans heard that an old Oxford friend, Freeman, the
historian, was visiting Ragusa for a short time with his two
daughters. Arthur greatly admired Freeman, who had taken a
leading part in organizing Balkan relief in England. In his
anxiety to get to Ragusa before the Freemans left, he rode non-
stop for seven hours, just missed the steamer at a vital ferry, took
a small boat and rowed himself across the sea channel, took a
horse on the other side and rode all through the next day to
THE QUEST CONTINUES 89
"He has acquired," wrote Evans's sister about this time,
"a slightly insurgent expression. . . ." Margaret Freeman, who
had not seen the young scholar since she knew him several years
earlier in Oxford, met a lithe, active, bronzed young man "not,"
wrote his sister cautiously, "without charm." Margaret fell in
love with him, and in February, 1878, when both were back in
England, they became engaged. Characteristically (Margaret
was also a scholar), the two celebrated their engagement by
going to see the exhibition of antiquities from Troy, brought to
London by Dr. Heinrich Schliemann.
The de Jongs and I were about halfway between Athens and
Crete. Our aircraft rumbled drowsily on above the wintry blue
of the Aegean. A tiny ship drew a broadening line of white across
the misted, sunlit water. Schliemann, like Homer, had travelled
to Crete in a ship. But Evans had Evans flown? I turned in my
seat to ask Piet de Jong.
"Oh, yes, he liked flying. He used to fly regularly even as
far back as the 'twenties, when flying wasn't as safe and as
commonplace as it is now. He'd try anything new. . . ."
"And in any case sea travel always made him horribly ill,"
added Effie, "so that a long sea trip was agony for him. But
flying never upset him."
I showed them the passage in my notes describing Evans's
famous walking stick, Prodger. They both smiled at the recollec-
"That stick of his," laughed Piet, "it was a part of him.
It was like a staff of office you just can't imagine Sir Arthur
without it. I tell you," he went on, leaning forward to emphasize
his point, "I've been walking down Piccadilly with Sir Arthur
in the middle of the day, when the place was crammed with
cars and he's seen a friend on the other side of the road or a
window with something which interested him, and, by gum,
off he's gone, slap-bang into the middle of the traffic, waving
that darned stick over his head and expecting the cars to give
way to him! And they did, too."
"Just as if he was in Herakleion," added Effie.
"He was something of an autocrat?" I asked.
90 THE BULL OF MINOS
''Call him that if you like. . . . No, not really. But he was a
kind of benevolent despot, a grand seigneur some of the Cretans
were afraid of him. But he loved Crete."
"Of course/' Piet went on, "we only knew him well in later
life, when he was rich and established, and settled in his ways.
But even as a young man I think he must have had an iron will.
And he loved a fight. Look at the way he fought the Austrians on
behalf of his beloved Bosnians until he was deported. And
then, what does he do but go home and begin another fight
with the University authorities over the Ashmolean Museum.
And all that was long before he came to Crete."
"He was like Schliemann in that way," added Mrs. de Jong.
"They both had successful careers long before they took up
She and her husband returned to their books. I looked down
for a while, half hypnotized by the endlessly moving pattern of
waves which creased the surface of Homer's "wine-dark sea."
. . . Then, with an effort, I turned again to my notes, to the
world which Arthur Evans knew when he was young.
PRELUDE TO CRETE
AFTER his marriage to Margaret Freeman in 1878, Arthur took
his bride to his beloved Ragusa. They bought a particularly
beautiful Venetian house, the Casa San Lazzaro, and made their
home there. He still continued to act as correspondent for the
Manchester Guardian, but devoted himself principally to the
history, antiquities and politics of the Southern Slav people and
Meanwhile, he continued to archaeologize. We see him ex-
cavating burial mounds, buying Greek and Roman coins, study-
ing Dalmatian history, and rhapsodizing, in lyrical letters to his
family, over the superb Venetian buildings of Ragusa, and the
Illyrian landscape. But Margaret, though as devoted to him as
he was to her, could not accommodate herself to Ragusa. She
had no taste for the picturesque, and dirt worried her. The
climate, the strange food, the flies, fleas and mosquitoes, all dis-
tressed her until, eventually, her health broke down. And there
were other troubles. In 18SO she returned home to undergo an
operation, in the hope that it would enable her to bear children;
in this it was not successful.
In the following year a fresh insurrection broke out against
the Austriaris. Immediately Evans left for the insurgent citadel
at Crivoscia, seat of the rebellion, and soon readers of the Man-
chester Guardian were again reading dispatches from his bril-
liant pen, in which every Austrian reverse was delightedly ac-
It was no secret that Evans and his English friends, passion-
ately believing in the insurrectionary movement, were hoping
for a rising of all the Slav peoples. This was too much for the
Austrian authorities at Ragusa. Evans became a marked man.
His house, his wife, his servants were watched, and when it
became evident (for he had little skill in subterfuge) that meet-
ings were taking place at the Casa San Lazzaro between people
known to be sympathetic to the insurgents, Evans and his wife
were given notice to quit. When he took no action, he was eventu-
ally arrested and lodged in Ragusa jail. On April 23, 1881, he
was examined, found guilty, released and immediately expelled
from the country, with his wife. They arrived back in England,
to be met by a relieved and delighted family. One of them wrote:
Arthur has been capering in and out of the house all day, bearing
Prodger and visiting the raspberries.
Another letter says:
He has had a lesson which will keep him at home I hope.
But any hope which the more timid members of the family
entertained, that Arthur would at last "settle down," was soon
dashed. Restless, dissatisfied, he longed to go abroad again,
knowing that his heart was in Ragusa; but for the time being he
knew he must find a niche in academic Oxford.
But travel, study and a questing, adventurous mind had
made Arthur Evans difficult to accommodate in a conventional
university professorship. He was an archaeologist, but he had no
sympathy with the way archaeology was taught at Oxford, nor
with the "classical" outlook of such men as Jowett, the Vice-
Chancellor. Thus, as he wrote gloomily to his friend Freeman,
who shared his views:
. . . there is going to be established a Professorship of Archaeol-
ogy, and I have been strongly advised to stand. I do not think I shall,
unless I see any real prospect of getting it; and to say the truth I
see very little. To begin with, it is to be called the Professorship of
Classical Archaeology, and I understand that the Electors, including
Jowett and Newton of the British Museum (who prevented me from
getting the Archaeological Travelling Studentship of old) regard "ar-
chaeology" as ending with the Christian Era. Anyhow, to confine a
professorship of archaeology to classical times seems to me as reason-
able as to create a chair of "Insular Geography" or "Mezozoic Geol-
ogy." . . .
PRELUDE TO CRETE 93
Freeman, in a sympathetic reply to this letter, advised Evans
to apply, while warning him that "they will have some narrow
Balliol fool, suspending all sound learning at the end of his
crooked nose, to represent self-satisfied ignorance against you,
but I would go in just to tell them a thing or two."
The chair eventually went to Percy Gardner, a "classical**
archaeologist after Newton's own heart.
At the end of April, Arthur and Margaret set off on a tour
of Greece. It was during this trip that they called on the Schlie-
manns, as described in an earlier chapter. Evans was fascinated
by the Mycenaean gems, arms and ornaments found in the shaft
graves, but not because he shared the German's view that they
were Homeric. To the Englishman they seemed far older. There
was something in their style neither Hellenic, nor Egyptian,
nor Oriental to which his fastidious mind immediately re-
sponded. He spent hours examining them, while Margaret talked
to Sophia Schliemann.
For Arthur Evans, as will have been noticed in his com-
ments on the university authorities, refused to make the conven-
tional obeisance to "classical" Greek art. He detested the type of
narrow academic mind, fundamentally unaesthetic, which would
not admit of other standards. His mind was free-ranging, indi-
vidual and sensitive, and to him the so-called "Mycenaean" art
vigorous yet controlled, aristocratic in spirit, yet humane had a
far greater appeal. It satisfied yet puzzled him. Where had it
originated? To what culture or group of cultures was it related?
This problem seemed to his sophisticated intelligence far more
important than old Heinrich's endeavors to relate Mycenaean art
to the world of Homer. It was a problem to which he was to re-
turn again and again during the coming years, though more than
a decade was to pass before he discovered the answer.
He visited Tiryns and Mycenae scene of Schliemann's tri-
umphs and was fascinated, especially by the Lion Gate with its
headless lions supporting that strange central column so dif-
ferent from Greek "classical" architecture. Where had it origi-
nated at Mycenae? In Greece? Or elsewhere? Evans won-
dered. . . .
Returning to Oxford, the Evanses set up house in Broad
Street, enlivening the somber Victorian rooms with bright Dal-
94 THE BULL OF MINOS
matian fabrics which reminded them of the sunlight and color
of Ragusa. . . .
Next year Arthur obtained a university appointment at last
but one which seemed, at first sight, to hold little promise
for his ardent, impetuous spirit.
He became, at the age of thirty-three, Curator of the Ash-
molean Museum. In 1884, this Museum, founded in the seven-
teenth century by Elias Ashmole, had been so neglected, abused
and mutilated by later generations that it had almost ceased to
have any practical value. In fact, its condition accurately reflected
the indifference with which archaeology was regarded by Vice-
Chancellor Jowett and other high officers of the University.
"After long neglect," writes Sir John Myres, "stripped of its coins
and manuscripts by the Bodleian, and its natural history collec-
tions for the New University Museum; it was embarrassed with
architectural casts collected by the 'Oxford Society for the study
of Gothic Architecture'; there was disorder and neglect within;
it was enclosed by other buildings which precluded enlarge-
ment; and it had a rival in the University Galleries since Ruskin's
tenure of the Slade Chair of Fine Art."
But to Arthur Evans all this was a challenge. He set about,
in his combative spirit, to fight for the Ashmolean as a revived
center of archaeological studies. The Bodleian had taken the
coins, had they? Right, then they must hand them back. Old
Tradescant's gallery had been gutted and turned into an exam-
ination room, had it? Then, he, Arthur Evans, would restore it
to its original function; not only that, but he knew a distinguished
collector of Renaissance art, Drury Fortnum, who was only wait-
ing to hand over his magnificent collection to the University if
suitable accommodation was provided for it. And what could be
more suitable than the Tradescant Gallery?
He found the death mask of old Tradescant rolling about
in the dust of the Ashmolean's cellar, together with that of
Bethlen Gabor. He restored them both to a place of honor. Fi-
nally, he drew up detailed plans for a revived and glorified
Ashmolean, improved, modernized, restored. In high spirits he
went to Jowett to obtain his approval of the plans. But the Vice-
Chancellor asked to be excused. He was very busy. He had not
time to look at the plans because he was about to leave Oxford
PRELUDE TO CRETE 95
for a month. In any case, he pointed out, the University could
not afford to spend money on the Ashmolean at present because
much was needed for the new professorships. Arthur returned
to the house in Broad Street, fuming.
The family held its breath. There was going to be a fight,
and Arthur dearly loved a fight. "I can see him/' wrote a rela-
tive, "snuffing up the tainted breeze and pawing like a war-
horse. . . ."
The struggle was long and hard. Evans, reluctantly com-
pelled to become a politician, disciplined himself to wait, ma-
noeuvre and bargain. Drury Fortnum again offered his collection
to Oxford with a handsome endowment, provided the University
would consider the creation of a Central Museum of Art and
Archaeology under tJie Keeper of the Ashmolean. The governing
body of the Museum was easily won over, but Jowett held out
until, at last, finding himself in a minority of one, he was forced
to agree. Evans's report was adopted. He celebrated the occasion
by giving a party tor two hundred guests in the limelit Upper
Gallery of the Museum.
Even then he had to struggle for years to obtain adequate
funds for the revived and reconstituted Ashmolean. But uni-
versity politics and administration bored him, and he sought re-
lief, whenever possible, in archaeological research (at Aylesford
he dug a late Celtic urn field) and in foreign travel with his
wife. They visited the Crimea, Yalta, Kertch, Batum, Tiflis,
Greece and Bulgaria, on the frontier of which they were arrested
on suspicion of being spies, and Margaret wrote, "I don't know
what I should have done without my 'bug-puzzler'. ... In two
nights we killed 221 plus 118 plus 90 equals 429. . . ." This was
in the year 1890. One wonders if the young girl students of to-
day trousered or not would equal Margaret's equanimity, if
faced with a similar situation.
Arthur's other interest was in numismatics, in which he
brought imagination to bear on what might appear to the layman
to be an arid study. For example, his recognition, on tiny Sicilian
coins, of artists' signatures so small that only his microscopic
sight could detect them, enabled him to establish a chronological
test of styles and of political relations between Sicilian cities. It
was this feeling for style, in all its subtle ramifications, which
96 THE BULL OF MINOS
enabled him, in later life, to interpret the details of Minoan
civilization as revealed in the miniature seals of Crete.
"It is," writes Sir John Myres, "a pecularity of Ashmole's
Keepership that its conditions of residence are so liberal that
travel is possible and presumed; on the other hand the Keeper
is expected to give occasional public lectures on the progress of
studies which concern the Museum. For a man of Evans's qualifi-
cations and temperament it was the ideal post, and it is to the
years of his Keepership that the greater part of his learned out-
put belongs. But between the earlier and later activities 1894
marks a crisis; for it was early in that year that he first visited
While gathering material for this book, I had the good
fortune and privilege to meet the late Sir John Myres, and was
able to settle a question which had puzzled me for some time:
how Sir Arthur Evans, whose background was mainly in the
Balkan countries and whose principal interest lay in numismatics,
came to be so closely associated with Crete.
"For more than a generation," Sir John told me, "Continental
opinion had attributed most of the characteristic features of
Greek civilization to Egyptian and Mesopotamian influences.
But in about 1890 there was a reaction, and in 1893 Solomon
Reinach brought out a book called Le Mirage Oriental, which
made a formal challenge to all Orientalizing theories. Reinach
contended that the West had, throughout, shown a large measure
of originality and genius of its own. Evans, as shown from his
studies in Celtic archaeology which he had just completed, was
greatly impressed with this alternative point of view.
"At that time," Sir John went on, "I was still an undergradu-
ate, while Evans was usually travelling abroad, and I didn't
actually meet him until I had finished my examinations. I first
met him at a party in North Oxford. We had a little talk, and I
told him of my project of going to Greece and doing some work
on prehistoric civilization there.
"He encouraged me to go ahead, and said that he would
see me when I came back. And in July and August, 1892, I
went to Crete, travelling over a good part of the west of the
Sitting with Sir John in his study, in his quiet, old-fashioned
PRELUDE TO CRETE 97
house near the Woodstock Road, watching his fine, white-bearded
face (like an old Norse king), I could not help thinking of the
"young black-bearded Ulysses" with whom Arthur Evans, only
ten years older himself, grubbed for Mycenaean fragments be-
neath the "Pelasgian" wall of the Athenian Acropolis in 1892.
Of the young Myres, Evans wrote home to his wife:
I am glad to find Myres here, who is at once Craven Scholar,
and Burdett Coutts, and is combining geology and archaeology in a
useful way. We worked at Mycenaean rings, grubbed under the Te-
lasgian" wall of the Acropolis, picked up fragments of pre-Mycenaean
vases. Heard Dorpfeld lecture on his discovery of the fountain of
Enneakrounos; but he has been finding it at different spots for
months. . . .
Tempora mutantur . . . Schliemann's brilliant assistant was
no longer the power he had been.
In the following year Margaret died. Her health had never
recovered completely after her breakdown at Ragusa. Typically,
she was accompanying her husband on one of his Mediterranean
journeys. It was at Alassio that she was suddenly seized with
violent spasms of pain and died within a few hours, holding
"I do not think anyone can ever know what Margaret has
been to me," he wrote to his father. "All seems very dark, and
without consolation. ... I will try to call up her brave, prac-
tical spirit, but one must have time to recover strength."
But 1893, a tragic year for Arthur Evans, was also a turning
point in his life. His stay in Athens in February and March had
confirmed his interest in Mycenaean art. Working over the tiny
objects from Schliemann's discoveries at Mycenae and Tiryns,
he had an intuition of discovery.
In that year, while searching among the trays of the an-
tiquity dealers in Shoe Lane, Athens, he and Myres came across
small three- and four-sided stones drilled along the axis, engraved
with symbols which seemed to belong to some hieroglyphic
system. Of course, most antiquarians were, by this time, familiar
with Egyptian hieroglyphic writing, but that such a system had
once existed in Europe seemed inconceivable. Yet here, in these
tiny seals and signet rings, seen under Evans's intense, micro-
98 THE BULL OF MINOS
scopic gaze, there appeared to be tiny symbols which might rep-
resent writing. Evans asked the dealer where these seals had come
"From Crete," he was told.
He pondered for a long time on this problem. He had al-
ready considered Crete, which, as a convenient stepping stone,
practically equidistant from Europe, Asia and Egypt, might have
provided a stage in the diffusion of a hieroglyphic script. He
had considered the possibility that some of the Ancient Egyp-
tian reliefs depicting invaders of the Nile Valley might represent
among them peoples of the Aegean islands. He had already met
the gentle, lovable Italian archaeologist, Frederico Halbherr, who
had begun to excavate Cretan sites a year before. Then there was
Stillman, an American journalist, and Joubin, of the French
School at Athens. They also had wished to dig in Crete but had
been prevented by the Turkish authorities. Yet, with care and
patience, and the discreet use of cash, something might be accom-
plished. . . .
In the spring of 1894, Arthur Evans set foot in Crete for the
From the moment he landed at Herakleion, he felt at home.
At Ragusa he had loved Venetian architecture. Here, at Herak-
leion, the Lion of St. Mark was carved on the battlements of the
great Venetian wall which surrounded the city. There were noble
Venetian buildings, and, since Crete was still under Turkish
rule, mosques stood side by side with Christian churches. There
was a blending of European and Oriental races. There was a
dramatic landscape of jagged limestone peaks, precipitous ra-
vines, valleys of an idyllic greenness in spring, beaches of white
sand gleaming through a sea of deep, translucent blue. And
above all, there was an all-pervading, impermeable sense of his-
tory. Cretans, Hellenes, Romans, Franks, Venetians, Turks all
had left their mark on the island.
Homer had known it. Here was the legendary home of
King Minos and his daughter, the Princess Ariadne, who gave to
the hero Theseus the precious thread which guided him to her
arms after he had slain the Minotaur, Zeus, King of Gods, had
been born here. On the north of the island rose snow-capped
Mount Ida, where, it was said, one could still find the sacred
PRELUDE TO CRETE 99
cave in which Zeus had been born. And immediately behind
the port of Herakleion, on the north, lay Mount Jukta, legendary
tomb of the god. Why, said the inhabitants, if you only looked
at the mountain from a certain angle and in a certain light, you
could see the recumbent profile of Zeus himself!
Like Schliemann, Evans made his way to the legendary site
of Knossos, a few miles from Herakleion. Here, surely, thought
Evans, he might find further examples of his bead-seal "picto-
graphs" and much more. Perhaps he might find engraved tablets
like the Egyptian "Rosetta Stone/' with a bilingual inscription
which might give the clue to the primitive Cretan language.
A Cretan gentleman, appropriately named Minos, had al-
ready dug trenches at Knossos and revealed massive walls, and
a store of huge pithoi (stone jars). This was more than enough
to whet Evans's appetite. Boldly announcing that he was acting
on behalf of the "Cretan Exploration Fund" (at that time non-
existent), he acquired a share of the site from the local Moslem
landowner. This was not much use to him at all, except for the
vital fact that, under Ottoman law, it gave him a veto on excava-
tion by anyone else. Five years later, when the Turkish forces
left Crete, and Prince George of Greece became High Commis-
sioner of the Powers Great Britain, France, Italy and Russia
Evans returned, acquired the freehold of the remainder of the
site and prepared to dig. This time the Cretan Exploration Fund
actually came into existence, with Prince George of Greece as
patron. "The British School of Archaeology at Athens was also
associated with the work," writes Myres, "in the person of its
Director, D. G. Hogarth, whose experience of excavation on a
large scale was invaluable; subscriptions came in, and digging
began in the winter."
Even before the first spade was thrust in the soil of Knossos,
Evans was convinced that in Crete, whose landscape, traditions
and people had won his heart, he would find the clue to that
earlier, pre-Hellenic world to which Schliemann's finds at My-
cenae had pointed the way. In the years before he began to dig,
he returned to Crete again and again, exploring, alone and with
his friend Myres, the length and breadth of the island. On one
occasion, Sir John told me, they climbed up onto the Lasithi
highlands, and explored the great sanctuary cave of Zeus at
100 THE BULL OF MINOS
Psychro. "From there," he went on, "we travelled along a great
Minoan prehistoric road, with embankments, bridges, and forts,
and came back by another route, visiting many villages, and in-
quiring everywhere for engraved seal-stones. These were greatly
valued by the Cretan women as charms when they were nursing
their babies they called them 'milk-stones/ "
These "milk-stones" of which many fine examples can be
seen today in the Ashmolean Museum, are lens-shaped, round,
or sometimes oval, and are perforated from side to side for sus-
pension from a thread. The ancient Cretan people wore them
round their necks or on their wrists, like the modern identity
bracelet. And that, in fact, appears to have been their function
the ancient equivalent of an identity card. Each was engraved
with a design, usually pictorial, but often with hieroglyphic
signs. They were the owner's badge, which he could put on his
property as a mark or seal. These tiny seals, with their miniature
scenes, fascinated Evans, and his search for them led him into
the remotest parts of the island; everywhere he found signs of a
once-flourishing civilization, remains of palaces and cities, many
of them in the wildest and most inaccessible places. But hardly
anywhere did he find evidence of Hellenic or "classical" remains.
He was able to write, even before he dug at Knossos:
The great days of Crete were those of which we still find a reflec-
tion in the Homeric poems the period of Mycenaean culture, to
which here at least we would fain attach the name "Mirioan" . . .
[after Minos]. Nothing more continually strikes the archaeological ex-
plorer of its ancient remains than the comparative paucity and unim-
portance of the relics of the historic period. . . . The golden age of
Crete lies far beyond the limits of the historical period; its culture not
only displays within the three seas a uniformity never afterwards at-
tained, but it is practically identical with that of the Peloponnese and
a large part of the Aegean world.
In March, 1899, Evans returned to Crete in the middle of
one of the worst storms in human memory. He brought with
him D. G. Hogarth, who was eleven years younger than himself,
but much more experienced in the technique of excavation, and
Duncan Mackenzie, a soft-spoken Scotsman with "a brush of
red hair, an uncertain temper, a great command of languages and
PB ELUDE TO CRETE 101
great experience in keeping the records of an excavation." Losing
no time, they recruited Cretan workmen and set them to work
digging into the mound of Kephala at Knossos.
Almost at once a great labyrinth of buildings was revealed.
By March twenty-seventh, Arthur Evans was able to note in his
diary: "The extraordinary phenomenon nothing Greek nothing
Roman perhaps one single fragment of late black varnished
ware among tens of thousands. Even Geometrical (seventh cen-
tury B.C. ) pottery fails us though as tholoi ( tombs ) found near
the central road show, a flourishing Knossos existed lower down.
. . . Nay, its great period goes at least well back to the pre-
Evans had come to decipher a system of writing, but before
a month had passed, he knew that he had discovered a civiliza-
ISLAND OF LEGEND
THE ancient cave of Eileithyia is a black hole in the bare hill-
side a few miles east of Herakleion. Though quite near the road
which twists up into the hills, the low, beetling entrance to the
cave is half hidden by a fig tree, so that without our driver's help
I doubt if we should have found it.
The three of us, the de Jongs and myself, sat on the slope
above the cave, looking down the bracken-covered slopes to
where the waves broke on the beach, far below. So calm was
the afternoon that their murmur reached us, like a soft whisper;
so clear the atmosphere that the islet of Dia a nymph, favored
by Zeus, whom angry Hera had turned into a sea monster looked
only a stone's throw from the height where we sat.
A small river, the Amnissus, came in from a side valley and
emptied itself unobtrusively into the Aegean. Thousands of
years ago there had been a port at its mouth, which Odysseus
had known "he put in at Amnissus, where the cave of Eileithyia
is" but it had silted up long ago, and Herakleion had long
since taken its place as the principal harbor of northern Crete.
But the sacred cave of the nymph Eileithyia protector of women
in childbirth was still there, and when Piet and I explored its
depths with a bundle of burning brushwood, a colony of bats
squeaked and fluttered in the dark crevices of the roof. The last
time I had seen the creatures in such numbers was inside the
Pyramid of Snofru, in Egypt, five years ago. But just so Homer
had seen them, some twenty-seven hundred years ago, and com-
pared them to the gibbering shades of the slain suitors whom
Hermes drove down to the gloomy halls of Hades:
He roused them up and marshalled them . . . and they obeyed
his summons, gibbering like bats that squeak and flutter in the depths
ISLAND OF LEGEND 103
of some mysterious cave when one of them has fallen from the rock
roof, losing hold of his clustered friends. . . . l
There are many such sacred caves in the limestone hills of
Crete and they still bear witness to the crowds of pilgrims who
came there centuries past. Their rocky floors are littered with
broken scraps of pottery remains of the votive vessels left by the
worshippers. Near the sacred stalagmite a dwarf pillar in the
depths of Eileithyia, round which de Jong pointed out to me
the remains of a sanctuary wall there were scores of such pot-
sherds. He picked one up and held it towards the light of the burn-
ing brushwood. "Roman," he commented and threw it away.
He searched again in the mud of the cave bottom and produced
a fragment of a thin-walled goblet such as I have seen at Mycenae.
"Mycenaean," he said. I put the sherd in my pocket as we
scrambled out into the sunlight again.
In such an atmosphere it is easy to slough off the present.
The plane from which we had landed an hour or so before; the
Greek soldiers at battle practice near the airport; the jostling,
noisy, dusty, friendly shops of ramshackle Herakleion, where
Effie had been greeted like an old friend; all these were forgotten,
and other memories began to steal in to take their places. The
story of the unfortunate Dia brought to mind the other myths
and legends which cling to this lovely island, the largest in the
Greek archipelago. Crete has been for three thousand years a
meeting place and a battleground of cultures Minoan, Hellenic,
Roman, Prankish, Venetian, Turkish and yet, lying far, far to
the south in the deep, dark sea, almost equidistant from Europe,
Asia and Africa, it still keeps its atmosphere of remoteness.
Schliemann, when he dug at Troy and Mycenae, had been
guided by an unsophisticated belief in the literal truth of the
Homeric poems. His intention to dig in Crete may have been
prompted by the same belief, for Homer mentions Crete many
times, especially in the Odyssey. But Arthur Evans, as we have
seen, had been drawn to the island first by scientific curiosity
rather than by belief in legend. He had traced to Crete the
mysterious hieroglyphic writing neither Egyptian nor Baby-
lonian and his ambition was to interpret that writing, and to
1 Odyssey, Book XXIV.
104 THE BULL OF MINOS
prove his thesis that "Throughout what is now the civilized
European area there must have once existed systems of picture-
writing such as still survive among the more primitive races of
mankind." At the same time he was thoroughly familiar with
the stories which Homer and the classic authors had told about
Crete, and, as these legends have a great bearing on what follows,
it is worth while to recall some of them.
The oldest tradition was that of Zeus, the Father God of
the Greeks, who was said to have been born in a cave in southern
Crete. Some said this cave was in the central peak of Mount
Ida, others that it was on a lower but still majestic easterly
mountain, Lasithi, called Dicte by the old Cretans.
Rhea, wife of Cronos, bore him several daughters Hestia,
Demeter, and "gold-shod" Hera but whenever she bore a
son, the jealous Cronos swallowed the child, with the intent,
says the poet Hesiod:
. . . that no other of the proud sons of Heaven should hold kingly
office amongst the deathless gods. For he learned from Earth and
starry Heaven that he was destined to be overcome by his own son,
strong though he was, through the contriving of the great Zeus.
So, when she came to bear Zeus, Rhea had to devise
. . . some plan . . , that the birth of her dear child might be con-
cealed. ... So they sent her to Lyctus, to the rich land of Crete,
when she was ready to bear great Zeus, the youngest of her children.
And Hesiod goes on to tell how Earth
. . . took him in her arms and hid him in a remote cave beneath the
secret places of holy earth on thick-wooded Mount Aegeum.
To Cronos Earth gave a stone which, mistaking it for his new-
born son, the god
. . . thrust down into his belly; wretch! he did not know that in place
of the stone his son was left behind, unconquered and untrou-
bled. . . .
ISLAND OF LECEMD 105
It was thus, said the Greeks, that Zeus was able to survive,
to overcome his father and reign as King of Gods.
Another long-established tradition concerned Minos, King
of Crete, said to have been "the son of Zeus," or, in another
version, his friend and chosen companion. Minos, it was said,
was a mighty lawgiver and founder of the first great naval power
in the Mediterranean. There were no records or monuments to
support such a belief, but the spoken tradition was strong, and
accepted, as we have seen, by historians such as Thucydides.
The traditions relating to Minos are various, and in some
ways conflicting. All agree that he controlled a mighty fleet
which ruled the eastern Mediterranean. In some he was respected
as a great lawgiver. But there were also traditional memories of
Minos the Tyrant, embodied in that most imperishable of legends,
the story of Theseus and the Minotaur. The legend is worth
quoting, as related by Appollodorus.
King Minos had, through conquest, become overlord of
Athens and as tribute demanded each year twelve noble Athenian
youths and maidens whom he could sacrifice to the Minotaur. This
was the monstrous progeny of Minos 's wife, Pasiphae, a nympho-
maniac whom only a bull could satisfy. It was kept by Minos in
a Labyrinth designed by his chief craftsman, Daedalus, be-
neath his great Palace at Knossos. So tortuous was this maze, with
its many twisting passages, blind alleys and false turnings, that
no man, having once entered, could ever hope to find his way
out again unaided. And within it lurked the Minotaur, waiting
to devour its victims. Every year, according the the legend, twelve
of the flower of Athenian youth, men and maidens, met their
death in this way.
Then came the year when the hero Theseus, son of old
Aegeus, lord of Athens, was numbered among those to be sent to
Crete but, writes Appollodorus:
. . some affirm ... he offered himself voluntarily. And as the ship
had a black sail, Aegeus, (the father) charged his son, if he returned
alive, to spread white sails on the ship. And when he came to Crete,
Ariadne, daughter of Minos, having fallen in love with him, offered
to help him if he would agree to carry her away to Athens and have
her to wife. Theseus having agreed on oath to do so, she besought
Daedalus to disclose the way out of the Labyrinth.
106 THE BULL OF MINOS
Daedalus the Smith, another great figure of legend, was a com-
bination of artist, craftsman and engineer whom Minos employed
as a kind of Master of the King's Works. It was Daedalus who
had made for Pasiphae the dummy cow within which she hid
herself when she wish to allure the bull.
What methods the "brown-haired Ariadne" used to persuade
the ingenious smith to give her his help are not mentioned, though
they may be imagined. At any rate, her wiles were successful,
for, says Appollodorus:
... at his suggestion she gave Theseus a clue [thread] when he went
in. Theseus fastened it to the door, and, drawing it after him, entered
in. And after having found the Minotaur in the last part of the Laby-
rinth, he killed him by smiting him with his fists; and, drawing the
clue after him made his way out again. And by night he arrived with
Ariadne and the children [presumably by this the writer means the
rest of the twelve Athenian men and girls destined for sacrifice] at
Naxos. There Dionysus fell in love with Ariadne and carried her off;
and having brought her to Lemnos he enjoyed her, and begot Thoas,
Staphylus, Oenopion and Peparthus.
In his grief on account of Ariadne [continues the poet], Theseus
forgot to spread the white sails on his ship when he stood for port; and
Aegeus (his father) seeing from the Acropolis the ship with a black
sail, supposed that Theseus had perished; so he cast himself down
and died. . . .
But that was not the end of the story. King Minos, when he
learned about the connivance of Daedalus in his daughter's
escape, imprisoned the guilty engineer, with his son Icarus, in the
Labyrinth. Then followed the invention of the first flying machine,
three thousand years before Leonardo da Vinci. , . .
Daedalus constructed wings for himself and his son, and enjoined
his son, when he took flight, neither to fly high, lest the glue should
melt in the sun and the wings should drop off, nor to fly too near the
sea, lest the pinions should be detached by the damp. But the infatu-
ated Icarus, disregarding his father's instructions, soared ever higher,
till, the glue melting, he fell into the sea called after him Icarian, anc?
perished. . . ,
Daedalus, a practical mechanic, made no such mistake. H<
had suffered enough already through his indulgence towards th<
ISLAND OF LEGEND 107
King's dark-haired daughter and her handsome though none-
too-intelligent Athenian wooer. He flew on, unscathed, to the
court of King Cocalus, in Sicily. But, says Apollodorus;
Minos pursued Daedalus, and in every country he searched he
carried a spiral shell and promised to give a great reward to him who
should pass a thread through the shell, believing that by that means
he should discover Daedalus.
Minos evidently knew human nature. Anyone who has
encountered the vanity and self-satisfaction of certain modern
scientist-engineers will recognize the cunning with which the
King baited his hook.
Having come to Camicus in Sicily [writes Apollodorus], to the
court of Cocalus, with whom Daedalus was concealed, he showed the
spiral shell. Cocalus (Lord of Sicily) took it, and promised to thread
it, and gave it to Daedalus.
Such a challenge was irrestible to Daedalus. But he seemed
to have a contempt for the lay mind akin to that with which the
modern engineering draughtsman regards the glossy young
gentleman from the sales department. He knew well that his
new lord, Cocalus, would have been as incapable of mathema-
tically working out the curves and convolutions of the shell as
was Ariadne's handsome but stupid lover in memorizing the
twists and turns of the Labyrinth. So, just as he had provided
Theseus with the clue of thread which even he could not mis-
understand, so he gave to the King of Sicily a method of thread-
ing the shell which was brilliant in its simplicity.
Cocalus took it, and promised to thread it ... and Daedalus
fastened a thread to an ant, and, having bored a hole in the spiral
shell, allowed the ant to pass through it. But when Minos found the
thread passed through the shell, he perceived that Daedalus was with
Cocalus, and at once demanded his surrender. Cocalus promised to
surrender him. and made an entertainment for Minos. . . .
And then follows one of the most mysterious records in the
108 THE BULL OF MINOS
. . . but after his bath Minos was undone by the daughters of Coca-
lus. . . .
But why? and how?
Both history and legend are silent here. Whatever the means
of his death, the great King of Crete passes into oblivion, done
to death by the young daughters of the King of Sicily. . . . And
a legendary chapter in the prehistory of the eastern Mediterra-
nean ends, as mysteriously as it began. . . .
The sun sank behind the headland to our left as we drove
back along the rough, twisting road, through Herakleion with
its narrow, ancient streets, and out again past the somber Vene-
tian ramparts to the winding valley road which leads towards
Knossos. It was strange to see that name, "half as old as Time/'
attached to one of the ramshackle Cretan buses which rattled
past us in a cloud of dust.
The houses were left behind. The valley's sides grew steeper,
and a small stream accompanied us on our left, crossed by many
old, arched bridges. For several miles the road rose and fell,
until, on one of its downward slopes, Mrs. de Jong pointed to a
cluster of houses at the bottom of the hill.
"That," she said, "is our village and these," pointing to
trim ranks of vines which climbed the slopes, "are our vine-
"My wife means," interjected her husband, "that these are
the vineyards belonging to the School. The land surrounding the
Palace was given by Sir Arthur to the British School of Archae-
ology at Athens, and we look after it."
The car stopped in front of a pleasant limewashed cottage
behind a stone wall.
"But where is the Palace?" I asked.
"Away to the left, behind those trees," said Piet "You'll see
it in the morning."
"Youll be wanting a bath, I expect," said his wife. "Here'
Manoli" greeting a dark-faced, smiling Cretan servant with ;
flood of Creek. "Hell show you to the Villa, Your room's all read
2, Heinrich Schliernann.
3. Sophia Schliemann,
"Jewels of Helen."
6. "Armed Combat in
Mountain Glen": Gold
signet from fourth shaft
grave, Mycenae. Note
"Homeric" body shield.
7. Design on sardonyx
gem from Mycenae, show-
ing warrior with "figure-
8. Minoan "figure-eight"
Mycenae: Postern Gate.
10. Mycenae: Entrance to the
secret underground cistern.
2. Gold face mask from shaft graves, Mycenae (thought by
Schliemann to be that of Agamemnon ) .
14. Mycenae ; The Citadel crowns the hill in the middle foreground.
15. Scene apparently illustrating the murder of Aegisthos and Clytemnestra by
Orestes, on gold bead seal of elongated class: Thisbe.
16. Tiryns: Cyclopean masonry.
17. The "Cup of Nestor."
L8. Portrait of Sir Arthur Evans, with the Palace of Knossos in background. Tru
19. Restored West Portico, Palace of Knossos with "Cup-bearer" frescoes.
20. Palace of Knossos: the
"horns of consecration" which
originally surmounted the
south side of the Palace. Be-
tween the horns can be seen
the little "caravanserai" and,
in the distance, Mount Jukta.
Travellers from the south
(from Egypt) came this way.
21. Palace of Knossos: "The Room of the Throne" with restored frescoes. This is
the oldest throne in Europe, still in its original place.
22. Palace of Knossos: One of the great storerooms, with oil jars in their original
position, and "floor cvsts" for precious articles.
23. Palace of Knossos: The "Cup-bearer" fresco, the first
example of a Minoan to he found in Crete. Note his "iden-
24. A Minoan vase.
26. Knossos: A typical light well." Note tapered columns,
27. Examples of Keftiu (sea peoples, probably Cretans) on walls of Egyptian tombs.
Compare with "Cup-bearer" fresco (especially loincloths) .
29. Palace of Knossos: The Grand Staircase leading to the Royal Apartments five
30, The "Ladies in Blue" fresco (Minoan Court ladies), restored by Gilli6ron.
oJ C s
32. Palace of Knossos: Minoan Court
ladies at a public function.
32a. The Snake Goddess of Crete.
33, A Mirioan amphora showing octopus and marine growths on rocks.
34. "Vapheio" cup : Scene showing the hunting of wild bulls.
olden "Vapheio" cup showing bull and decov cow.
SIWI^WfffrffAWf^^ 1 1 Iff ffn
36. The Minoan "bull-leaping" sport. A fresco from the Palace of Knossos showing
the acrobat somersaulting over the bull's back. The "matador" on the right is a girl.
Hn/ tV.fi QomKaf-s nprfnrmed the feat ^see above) .
38. Fresco of the Young Prince (sometimes called the "Priest King"), Palace of
39. Sir Arthur Evans in later life, standing at the northern entrance to the Palace,
which he excavated.
40. Knossos: The Hall of the Double Axes.
41. Steatite rhv ton with boxers.
42. The "boy god."
43. Palace of Phaestos: The "Theatral Area."
44. Palace of Phaestos: The Grand Entrance Staircase,
45. Palace of Phaestos: Audience Chamber.
47. The Palace of Phaestos, with Mount Ida in background.
48, The Palace of Phaestos, with the Plain of Messara behind.
49, The author at Herakleion.
"Villa?" I asked. "Is that a hotel?"
"No, no, no," replied Mrs. de Jong. "The Villa Ariadne is
Sir Arthur's old home. He built it in 1912 as a permanent base
for his work, and to entertain his friends. He used to spend every
spring and summer at the Villa for many years. Then, when he
got too old to come out regularly, he handed over the house to
the School, as a rest house for students. This" indicating the
creepered, comfortable cottage "is our house we call it the
Taverna. But you'll be staying at the Villa up there. Do you
She indicated a stately fagade behind a screen of palms and
oleander trees. A little path wound up the slope between clusters
of bougainvillaea. Although I had left England locked in the
grip of February frost, here it was already comfortably mild,
and I sensed the coming of spring.
"Is anyone else staying there?"
"No," said Mrs. de Jong. "February is too early for students.
You'll have the whole place to yourself. But don't worry there
are no ghosts, or only friendly ones! Look, Piet, what a wonder-
ful moon." She chattered on without pausing for breath, finally
calling out to me, "Dinner's at eight!" as I followed Manoli,
through the scented dusk, to the Villa Ariadne.
A CHALLENGE ACCEPTED
CRETE is a long, narrow island, much wider from east to west
(160 miles) than from north to south (35 miles at its broadest
point ) . The country is ribbed by bare, almost treeless mountains
of great magnificence the highest is 7,882 feet which run ap-
proximately east and west, in line with the island's longest dimen-
sion. But here and there deep gaps break the mountain chain
from north to south. They begin as shallow troughs near the
coast, and become progressively steeper as they cut into the
mountains. In one of these valleys, at a point near the north
coast a few miles from Herakleion (formerly called Candia) lies
When Evans began to dig there in the first year of our cen-
tury, he saw before him:
(a) a valley, fairly shallow, and running roughly north and south,
with the town of Herakleion behind him to the north;
(b) a modern road following the western, i.e., the right-hand side
of the valley (looking south);
(c) to the east, left of the road, a large, fairly level-topped mound
called Kephala, falling away steeply on the eastern, i.e., the
left-hand side, into a deep gully at the foot of which ran the
(d) ahead, to the south, another steep-sided gully, cutting off the
mound of Kephala from the valley road to the south, which
crossed the gully by a bridge.
Thus one must think of the site of Knossos as roughly a
quadrangular mound, bounded on two sides the east and south
by steep downward slopes, the remaining sides being more or
less on a level with the surrounding terrain. It must not be imag-
ined as a lofty citadel crowning a steep hill, as at Mycenae. (To
all who find topographical description as boring as I do, may I
A CHALLENGE ACCEPTED 111
plead that if they grasp the orientation of the site steep-sided
to the south and east, flatter to the west and north they will
find the following chapter more comprehensible and, I hope,
Virchow, writing of Schliemann's discoveries at Troy thirty
years earlier, had stated: "Here begins a new science." Now
Evans, who at forty-nine was almost the same age as Schliemann
when he dug at Troy, was to make another tremendous con-
tribution to that science. Yet when he, his Scots assistant and
their original thirty workmen sank the first shaft into the mound,
they had only a vague idea of what it might hold. They knew
that substantial walls existed at one point the Cretan amateur,
Minos Kalokairinos, had struck them years before. There were
also, they knew, some huge jars of baked clay, called pithoi
rather like those in which Ali Baba found the Forty Thieves.
Apart from these facts there were only myths and legends from
the dim beginnings of European history.
Yet, almost from the start of the excavations, the great
mound began to reveal its secrets not material treasures of
gold and precious stones, such as Schliemann had found at
Mycenae but evidences of a mature, sophisticated art; a skill
in engineering; and an architecture of such splendor, subtlety
and refinement as could have been produced only by a civiliza-
tion of great age. The style was, in the main, that which had
hitherto been called "Mycenaean," because at Mycenae had been
found the first objects with the characteristics neither Egyptian
nor Oriental which had so fascinated Evans when Schliemann
showed him his treasures. And yet there were differences. There
was a suavity of style, an assurance, even a hint of decadence in
Cretan art. Above all there was an impression of tremendous
age, and of long-continued, uninterrupted development which
just did not fit with the stern citadel of Mycenae that baron's
stronghold frowning from its hilltop.
And yet here at Knossos were the familiar "Mycenaean"
features the bell-like crinoline skirts of the women depicted on
seals and frescoes, even the now famous eight-shaped shield
which Schliemann had triumphantly declared to be Homeric.
But Homer (between 900-700 B.C.) now appeared almost mod-
ern compared with these people! The treasures of the shaft
112 THE BULL OF MINOS
graves of Mycenae dated from about 1600 B.C. Yet it now became
increasingly clear that those kings and queens with their golden
breastplates and rich jewellery, must have come long after the
builders of the first Palace of Knossos. . . . Evans and his com-
panions patiently followed Ariadne's thread, but each discovery
seemed to bring with it new, unsolved mysteries. The Labyrinth
seemed to have no end. . . .
It gradually became clear that the mound of Kephala con-
cealed a great Palace, some six acres in extent or rather the re-
mains of several Palaces, not neatly stratified one beneath an-
other but to some extent jumbled together, as later builders had
utilized some of the structures of their forefathers, while com-
pletely gutting and rebuilding others. But everything testified
to long and comparatively uninterrupted habitation. Human be-
ings had lived continuously on that spot, and on the surround-
ing hillsides, for more than a score of centuries. Meanwhile Ar-
thur Evans, perhaps at first a little bewildered by the magnitude
of his discovery, continued to search for his hieroglyphics, and
We have found [he announced in a letter written at the time], a
kind of baked clay bar, rather like a stone chisel in shape, though
broken at one end, with script on it and what appear to be numerals.
It at once recalled a clay tablet of unknown age that I had copied at
Candia, also found at Knossos . . . also broken. There is something
like cursive writing about these. . . .
Evans had found what he had come to find. More men were
engaged, until over one hundred were digging into the mound
under the careful direction of Evans, Duncan Mackenzie and a
new arrival, Theodore Fyfe, architect of the British School of
Archaeology at Athens. Evans was one of the first archaeologists
to employ a professional architect, always on the site; others usu-
ally contented themselves with bringing one in at the end to
make plans. But Evans kept a series of first-class architects in
constant attendance; first Theodore Fyfe, then Christian Doll
and finally Piet de Jong.
Although the architectural revelations of Knossos astonished
Evans, his main interest, at first, was in the prehistoric picture
A CHALLENGE ACCEPTED 113
writing which he had come to find. As more of these precious
clay tablets came to sight, bearing the same mysterious hiero-
glyphic writing which he had recognized on the tiny seal stones,
he wrote delightedly to his family:
The great discovery is whole deposits, entire or fragmentary, of
clay tablets analogous to the Babylonian but with inscriptions in the
prehistoric script of Crete. I must have about seven hundred pieces by
now. It is extremely satisfactory, as it is what I came to Crete [somel
years ago to find, and it is the coping-stone to what I have already put
With regard to prehistoric inscriptions, "the cry is still they come."
I have just struck the largest deposit yet, some hundreds of
pieces. . . .
And the Athens correspondent of The Times wrote on August
. . . the most important discovery is the prehistoric Cretan script,
which proves that writing was practised. . . .
This was also Evans's view at first. But, gradually, as the full
glory of the Palace was unveiled, he began to realize that whether
or not he succeeded in deciphering the mysterious script, there
had come to him an opportunity which had never before been
granted to one man, the opportunity of writing, almost single-
handed, the history of the first two thousand years of European
civilization. He accepted the challenge, and was equal to it.
On April fifth came a remarkable discovery the finding of
the first picture of a "Minoan," one of the mysterious people
who had inhabited the Palace of Knossos more than fifteen hun-
dred years before Christ. ( It was Evans who invented the name
Minoan, after Minos, the legendary ruler of Crete.) This was a
great day for the discoverer, and his diary reveals his excitement.
. . . Early in the morning the gradual surface uncovering of the
Corridor to the left of the "Megaron" near its south end revealed two
114 THE BULL OF MINOS
large pieces of Mycenaean fresco. . . . One represented the head and
forehead, the other the waist and part of the figure of a female [later
recognized to be a male] figure holding in her [his] hand a long
Mycenaean "rhyton" or high, funnel-shaped cup. . . . The figure is
life size, the flesh colour of a deep reddish hue like that of figures on
Etruscan tombs and the Keftiu of Egyptian paintings. The profile of
the face is a noble type; full lips, the lower showing a slight peculiar-
ity of curve below. The eye is dark and slightly almond shaped. . . .
The arms are beautifully modelled. The waist is of the smallest . . .
it is far and away the most remarkable human figure of the Mycenaean
age that has yet come to light. . . .
How Schliemann would have loved to have seen that fresco!
The discovery of this figure, the first example of a well-
preserved painting of a man of that far-remote age, contemporary
with the Middle Empire of Egypt caused a great sensation in
Crete and beyond. The world's press printed news of its finding,
and the local inhabitants of Knossos were equally impressed,
though they were convinced that the figure was that of a Chris-
stian saint. At night a guard was set.
At night [wrote Evans in his diary], Manoli set to watch the
fresco, believed by him to be Saint with halo. Has troubled dreams.
Saint wrathful. Manoli wakes and hears lowing and neighing. Some-
thing about, but of ghostly kind. . . .
The figure seemed to have formed part of a mural repre-
senting a procession of young men, each carrying a tall, conical
"rhyton" in some ceremonial observance. The figure, with its
broad, bronzed shoulders, curling black hair, artificially slim
waist encircled by a tight girdle, and muscular thighs, was
clearly stylized; yet here, clearly, was the first representation of
a young Cretan of the prehistoric age which human eyes had
seen for at least two thousand years. Egyptologists were particu-
larly excited, for here, in his own locale, was clearly represented
one of the so-called Keftiu, the "people of the islands," who can
be seen on the walls of Ancient Egyptian tombs bearing tribute
to the Pharaoh or his officers. Those familiar with Egyptian in-
scriptions had known for many years of the "Island People"
from the "Great Green Sea," with whom the Pharaohs were alter-
nately at war and at peace. Their pictures had been seen in
A CHALLENGE ACCEPTED 115
Egyptian tombs, recognizable by their blue and gold loincloths
of non-Egyptian shape, and by the handsome vessels they carried
vessels of a recognizably non-Egyptian type. Now, for the first
time, these Keftiu were revealed in their own land and, sure
enough, among the pottery which Evans and his assistants dug
up from the depths of Kephala were fragments of vases, "rhytons"
and other ritual vessels such as could be seen clearly depicted
in the tomb paintings of Egyptian Thebes (see Plate 27).
Were these, then, the mysterious Keftiu? . . . Were they
Then came the dramatic discovery of the so-called "Room
of the Throne." Evans had begun excavating on the west side
of the mound. First he had discovered, on what was evidently
the ground floor of the Palace, a long corridor off which led a
series of magazines or storerooms, each containing great earthen-
ware storage jars for oil (the pithoi), and under the floor be-
neath, narrow, stone-lined cysts small chambers, like modern
safe deposits, which, from the fact that fragments of gold foil
were found among them, seem to have been used for the storage
of precious objects ( see Plate 22 ) , All the lower part of this west
side of the great, rambling building seems to have been used, at
any rate during the later period of the Palace's history, for official
quarters; one imagines a kind of Cretan Whitehall, full of clerks
and civil servants of varying degrees of importance. Here was
kept the royal wealth (of which oil formed an important part),
and here lived those responsible for its collection and safe-
Then there lay, to the east of the corridor and magazines, a
large central courtyard, on top of the mound. Buildings of vary-
ing sizes surrounded it, but it was much longer on its east and
west sides than on the north and south. On the west side of this
courtyard was what seemed at first to be the eastern entrance to
the palace (though it was not). And here, quite early in the ex-
cavations, Evans and his friends found the Room of the Throne.
First there was an antechamber opening on to the central
court. Beyond that was a further chamber, with seats on three
sides, overlooking a rectangular pit, with broad steps leading
down into it. At first it looked very much like a bath, until it
was discovered that there was no provision for the escape of
waste water. But it was the room above and overlooking the so-
116 THE BULL OF MINOS
called "bath" which most interested Evans and his colleagues,
Duncan Mackenzie and Theodore Fyfe. Here is Sir Arthur's diary
entry for April 13, 1900.
The chief event of the day was the result of the continued excava-
tion of the bath chamber [my italics]. The parapet of the bath proved
to have another circular cutting at its east end, and as this was filled
with charred wood cypress these openings were evidently for
columns. On the other side of the north wall was a short bench like
that of the outer chamber, and then separated from it by a small in-
terval a separate seat of honour or Throne. It had a high back, like
the seat, of gypsum, which was partly embedded in the stucco of the
wall. It was raised on a square base and had a curious moulding be-
low with crockets (almost Gothic).
This room, which, in his report to The Times, Evans named
"The Council Chamber of Minos," was recognized later to have
had a religious purpose. But there, in its original position, stood
and still stands the noble throne of Minos, the oldest in Eu-
rope by two thousand years (see Plate 21).
The more Evans and his staff explored the site, the more
extensive and complicated it became. "Discovery followed dis-
covery," wrote Joan Evans. "An Egyptian statue of diorite, a
great paved area with stairways, a fresco of olive sprays in flower,
another of a boy [later discovered to be a monkey] gathering
saffron, a fresco of people in solemn procession, a great relief in
painted stucco of a charging bull . . ."
It was this latter discovery which gave Evans the greatest
excitement. Already he had seen, among die objects which Schlie-
mann had found in the Mycenaean shaft graves, a fine silver head
of a bull, with a rosette between its horns (see Plate 11). Now,
at Knossos, here was the animal again, in a magnificent stucco
relief, which evidently had once adorned the north portico of
the Palace. Not only there, but in other places, in frescoes and
reliefs, and frequently on seals, appeared the bull. Inevitably,
the legend of Theseus and the Minotaur returned to Evan's mind.
"What a part these creatures play here!" he wrote. . . . "Was
not some one or other of these creatures visible on the ruined
site in Dorian days, which gave the actual tradition of the Bull
Later came the most remarkable of all the discoveries made
A CHALLENGE ACCEPTED 117
at Knossos: the remains of a spirited fresco depicting, without a
shadow of doubt, a young man in the act of somersaulting over
the back of a charging bull, while a young girl, similarly dressed
in "toreador's" costume, waited behind the animal's flank to catch
him (see Plate 36). Soon other examples of the same scene came
to light, proving that among these ancient people there had un-
doubtedly existed a form of sport in which the bull played a
prominent part. In none of these scenes was any contestant
shown carrying a weapon, nor was the bull killed. But again and
again in wall paintings, on seals, in a delicate ivory statuette
the same incredible scene was repeated, the slim, agile figure of
the youthful "bull leaper" in the act of somersaulting over the
horns of the charging beast. Had there been, after all, some
kind of ritual sacrifice? Were these young men and girls the
Athenian hostages who, according to tradition, were sent each
year as tribute to the Minotaur?
Who were these people? Were they "Mycenaean" contem-
porary with the people whose bodies Schliemann had found in
the shaft graves at Mycenae? Or were they even older? Although
the civilization revealed at Knossos was akin to that of Mycenae,
everything indicated that it was far more ancient, and that what
had been regarded hitherto as "Mycenaean" was in fact derived
from Crete (although the Mycenaeans were not necessarily of
Cretan stock). In an attempt to establish just how long civiliza-
tion had existed at Knossos, Evans sank test pits deep into the
mound of Kephala. The strata thus revealed proved beyond
doubt that there had been almost continuous human settlement
at Knossos from the Neolithic period (i.e., the New Stone Age,
which ended at about 3000 B.C. ) up to and including the penul-
timate development of Cretan civilization the period to which
Evans later gave the name Late Minoan III which ended in
approximately 1200 B.C. There were evidences of one or two
breaks, but none of long duration. Civilization had been a long
process of growth, a blossoming and a decay. Then Evans under-
stood why this had been possible. In that remote age when sea
power did not exist, Crete, isolated in a waste of waters, had
been safe from invasion. The nearest power, Egypt, had no great
naval strength. Contact between Egypt and Crete had been cul-
tural and commercial.
Gradually Crete had built up naval power. Everywhere
118 THE BULL OF MINOS
Evans and his associates found evidence of the close ties be-
tween the lords of Knossos and the surrounding ocean. On walls
and pillars, on painted frescoes and engraved seals, appeared
the trident emblem of sea power. The makers of the lovely
Cretan pottery, especially in its middle and late stages of devel-
opment, repeatedly used marine emblems and, as decorative
motifs, sea creatures such as the octopus, the dolphin, the sea
urchin, and the starfish (see Plate 33). The Palace of Knossos
itself, unlike the grim fortresses of Mycenae and Tiryns, was al-
most unfortified. It did not need walls the ocean was sufficient
protection. Again it seemed that the ancient tradition was true
of King Minos as founder of the first great naval power in the
Mediterranean. Was Crete, then, the starting point of Aegean
civilization? Was this the answer to the riddle which old Ilein-
rich Schliemann had sought to understand?
Arthur Evans believed that it was, and determined to prove
it. Already, in one of those bold imaginative flights which dis-
tinguished him from the mere scholarly pedant, he had written
to The Times in August of that year:
. . . the realms of the legendary Minos, the great conqueror and
lawgiver who at the close of his temporal reign took his seat on the
dread tribunal of the netherworld, the abode of Daedalus, the father
of architecture and plastic arts, the haunt of the mysterious Dactyls,
the earliest artificers in iron and bronze, the refuge of Europa, and
the birthplace of Zeus himself, Crete was in remote times the home of
a highly developed culture which vanished before the dawn of his-
tory . . . among the prehistoric cities of Crete, Knossos, the capital
of Minos, is indicated by legend as holding the foremost place. Here
the great lawgiver (Minos) promulgated his famous institutions,
which like those of Moses and Numa Pompilius were derived from a
divine source; here was established a ... maritime empire, sup-
pressing piracy, conquering the islands of the Archipelago, and im-
posing a tribute on subjected Athens. Here Daedalus constructed the
Labyrinth, the den of the Minotaur, and fashioned the wings-^-per-
haps the sails with which he and Icarus took flight over the Ae-
gean. . . .
It was fortunate for the world that this great opportunity
of digging down to the very roots of European culture came
A CHALLENGE ACCEPTED 119
to a man who combined a scholar's patience with devotion to
truth, intuition, sensibility and poetic imagination. Partly by
chance, but chiefly through good judgment, Evans had found in
middle life a task for which he was supremely fitted. But he
knew well he must tackle it in his own way, unhampered by
committees and official bodies, and responsible to no one but
himself. At first the excavations had been partly financed by the
"Cretan Exploration Fund," but the expense of excavating such
a site was very great, and now that the South African War had
broken out, there was little money to spare for archaeology.
There was a suggestion of making a fresh appeal for funds under
the direction of George Macmillan, of the famous publishing
house, whose family was hereditary friends of the Evans family.
But Arthur Evans made his own views quite clear when he wrote
to his father in November, 1900.
The Palace of Knossos [he wrote], was my idea and my work, and
it turns out to be such a find as one could not hope for in a lifetime,
or in many lifetimes. That the Fund should help me is another thing.
If you like to give me the money personally that also would be quite
acceptable. But we may as well keep some of Knossos in the family!
I am quite resolved not to have the thing entirely "pooled" for many
reasons, but largely because I must have sole control of what I am
personally undertaking. With other people it may be different, but I
know it is so with me; my way may not be the best but it is the only
way I can work. . * .
John Evans knew his son s temper and agreed. Fortunately
he was a rich man. From this point onwards the cost of the
monumental work of excavation, reconstruction and publication
of the Palace of Knossos, work which continued intermittently for
more than thirty years, was borne first by John Evans and after-
wards entirely by Arthur Evans himself, from his private fortune.
It is difficult to arrive at an accurate estimate of the total cost,
but it was probably in the region of a quarter of a million pounds.
But it was not only Evans who was making great discoveries
in Crete in the spring of 1900. While Evans dug at Knossos, an-
other British archaeologist, working on the other side of the
island, succeeded in penetrating into one of the most awe-
inspiring sanctuaries in the world; the birth cave of Zeus.
THE BIRTH CAVE OF ZEUS
But Rhea was subject in love to Cronos and bore splen-
did children, Hestia, Demeter, and gold-shod Hera and
strong Hades, pitiless in heart, who dwells under the earth,
and the loud-crashing Earth-Shaker, and wise Zeus, father
of gods and men, by whose thunder the wide earth is shaken.
These great Cronos swallowed as each came forth from the
womb of his mother's knees with this intent, that no other of
the proud sons of Heaven should hold kingly office amongst
the deathless gods. . . .
So the poet Hesiod had written, some seven hundred years or
more before Christ, setting down in stirring verse the traditions
which he had inherited from a far earlier age.
Some years before Arthur Evans finally obtained the con-
cession to dig at Knossos, he had explored the mountain of
Lasithi, called by the ancients Dicte, where, it was said, Zeus
was born. Now, in the spring of 1900, although Evans was ab-
sorbed in his newfound Palace of Knossos, he had not forgotten
the great cavern in the mountainside, far up on the heights of
Lasithi. There, in 1896, he had discovered an inscribed libation
table, although fallen rocks had prevented him from penetrating
deeply into the cave. But now there arrived on the scene the re-
doubtable D. G. Hogarth, then Director of the British School of
Archaeology in Athens, and well seasoned (as Evans was not)
in excavation in the Middle East. In May, 1900, while Evans and
Mackenzie worked on the mound of Kephala, Hogarth made a
determined attack on the Dictean Cave, or, as it is sometimes
called, "the cave-sanctuary of Psychro." He had every advantage
on his side, for at last peace had come to the island; and the local
inhabitants, who had previously been suspicious of foreigners,
THE BIRTH CAVE OF ZEUS 121
were now favorably disposed to the British, who had helped to
deliver them from the Turks.
Hogarth, like Evans, was a man of imagination and sensibil-
ity. When he began to explore the birthplace of Zeus, he was
zestfully aware of its mythological associations. In his article in
the Monthly Review January to March, 1901 he wrote:
Thither the pregnant Queen [Rhea] was sent by the kindly Earth
Mother at the first, and thence she set forth by night to lay her new-
born babe on the neighbouring hill. That babe grew to be the Immor-
tal One [Zeus] before whom old Time himself was forced to bow, and
in later days still resorted to his birth cave. For thither, as Lucian tells
us in his best manner, he led the maiden Europa, flushed and half-
suspecting, and there the son [Minos] whom she conceived that day,
sought his Father, when, another Moses, he would give a Law to the
Cretans. While the Cretans waited above, so runs the story, Minos
descended into the grot, and, reappearing at last with the Code, gave
out that he had got it from the hands of Zeus himself. . . .
This was the sacred cave, never fully explored, which
Hogarth and his assistants were now to examine. He knew how
privileged he was, for, as he wrote:
... the upland fastnesses of Crete have not, these many centuries
past, been any place for the scholarly explorer; and the Lasithi region,
which excluded the Venetians and only once admitted the Turks in
arms, has remained less known than any part of the classic world.
Indeed, jealous and nervous officials on the coast, jealous and arrogant
hillmen in the inner country, have kept most of Crete virgin soil to
our own day.
He had had predecessors, of course. Frederico Halbherr,
the great Italian archaeologist and friend of Evans, and Dr. Jo-
seph Hazzidakis, the head of the Candiote Syllogos (Cretan Ar-
chaeological Society), had made tentative attempts to penetrate
the cave. They had recovered, from the local peasants, certain
bronze objects, such as miniature "double axes" (the symbol of
Zeus), knives and other weapons; but inside the cave they could
do little or nothing, so deep was the cumber of fallen rocks in its
122 THE BULL OF MINOS
Then at last came the liberation of the island, and, as Ho-
garth writes, ". . . in May, 1900 ... I left Mr, Arthur Evans
to his fortunate labours in the Knossian Palace of Minos, and
betook myself to Psychro with a few trained men, stone-hammers,
mining bars, blasting powder, and the rest of a digger's plant"
Then he describes the cave:
There is a shallow hall to the right and an abysmal chasm to the
left, the last not matched in Crete for grandeur, nor unworthy of a
place among the famous limestone grottoes of the world. The rock at
first breaks down sheer, but as the light grows dim, takes an outward
slope, and so falls steeply still for two hundred feet into an inky dark-
ness. Having groped thus far, stand and burn a powerful flashlight.
An icy pool spreads from your feet about the bases of fantastic stalac-
tite columns on into the heart of the hill. Hall opens from hall with
fretted roofs and the same black, unruffled floor, doubling the torches
you and your guides must bear. An impassable labyrinth before, where
rock and water meet; behind and far above a spot of faintly luminous
haze. Fit scene for Minos' mysterious colloquy with his father Zeus,
and the after-cult of a Chthonian god. . . .
To me, one of the most engaging qualities of the great
nineteenth-century archaeologists such as Hogarth is their vigor-
ous literary style. Hogarth, Petrie, Evans, Breasted; they could
all write. But they were also men of action and decision, as Ho-
garth makes clear in his next paragraph.
Our blasting charges made short work of the boulders in the up-
per hill, and luckily the threatening roof held good. Crowbars and
stone-hammers finished the powder's work. . . . Then the real dig
began. . . .
He is very amusing on labor recruitment. He believed in
mixing the sexes because, he states, ". . . the men labour the
more willingly for the emulation of the women. . . .* but this
method, applied successfully in Cyprus and Turkey, seemed at
first to be a failure in Crete.
At first the Lasithi maidens were very coy, watching from a dis-
tance two girls, already trained at Knossos, diligent at their sieves.
But, on the third morning, a more cosmopolitan villager, who had
THE BIRTH CAVE OF ZEUS 123
fought or looted as a volunteer on the French side in 1870, sent
up an aged wife and daughter to help his son, and the ice was broken.
The laughing mob brandished grain-sieves and demanded all to be
written [recruited] at once, and with their sisters, cousins, and aunts,
who brought up the mid-day meal, they made the terrace before the
Cave the gayest spot in Lasithi. . . .
With this picturesque labor force Hogarth made one of the
most sensational discoveries in Crete. There were, as he de-
scribed, two chambers within the sacred grotto. In the Upper
Hall, part of which had already been plundered by the local
peasantry, there were found small objects of bronze, such as
small "double axes," knives, bracelets and so forth, and remains
of Hellenic pottery, all originally proffered as votive offerings to
the god. But these were fairly late in date; i.e., they belonged
to "classical" Greek or Roman times, from about 500 B.C. onward.
But then came the exploration of that "abysmal chasm to the
left," which had been inaccessible until Hogarth arrived with his
blasting powder and mining bars.
The men clambered down [he writes], unwilling and not ex-
pectant, to their final task in the dank abyss . . . and the girls
moaned not a little at the sight of the clammy mud in which they
must now stand and search. , . .
The reluctant diggers worked lower and lower into the dark-
ness, till their distant lights showed like glow-worms to the men
above, and began to grope in the mud left exposed by the water.
And then something wonderful happened.
A zealous groper, wishing to put both hands to his work, stuck his
guttering candle into a slit of stalactite column, and therein espied the
edge of a bronze blade, wedged vertically. Fished out with the fire-
tongs from the camp above, this proved a perfect "Mycenaean" knife.
But, except by human agency, it could hardly have come into the
crevice. . . .
Quickly the word was passed round, and the workers, men
and girls, ceased groping in the mud of the pool and began to
search in the crevices of the stalactites those pendulous columns
124 THE BULL OF MINOS
of glistening limestone which hung from the roof of the cave,
the products of aeons of natural growth. And there they found,
wedged in the crevices, hundreds upon hundreds of votive offer-
ings: knives, miniature double axes, women's ornaments, fibulae
all offerings to the god, placed there by worshippers who had
penetrated to that gloomy hall two, three, perhaps four thousand
years ago. It was the Holy of Holies. It was the innermost sanc-
tuary of Zeus himself, unseen by man for, perhaps, two mil-
lennia. . . .
In this most awful part of the sacred grotto [wrote Hogarth], it
was held most profitable to dedicate, in niches made by Nature her-
self, objects fashioned expressly for the God's service, like the axes or
statuettes, or taken from the person of the worshipper, as the knives,
pins, and rings. The fact does honour to the primitive Cretan imagina-
tion. In these pillared halls of unknown extent and abysmal gloom
undoubtedly was laid the scene of Minos' legendary converse with
Zeus. For the lower grot suits admirably the story as the rationalizing
Dionysius tells it the primeval king leaving his people without and
descending out of their sight, to reappear at last with the credit of
having seen and talked with God himself. That here is the original
Birth Cave of Zeus there can remain n^ shadow of doubt. The Cave of
Ida, however rich it proved in offerings when explored some years
ago, has no sanctuary approaching the mystery of this. Among holy
caverns in the world, that of Psychro, in virtue of its lower halls, must
stand alone. . . .
"AND STILL THE WONDER
HOGARTH had proved that yet another of the ancient traditions
had a solid basis. Meanwhile, Evans and Mackenzie continued
to dig at Knossos until, on June 2, 1900, they had to cease. The
weather had become unbearably hot, and besides, the valley had
proved malarial. However, by February, 1901, Evans was back
in Herakleion (then called Candia), where he rented a Turkish
house as a permanent base. Every day, writes Joan Evans:
Evans, Mackenzie and Fyfe used to ride out to Knossos on mules,
through a tunnel-like gate over the town moat, past the lepers congre-
gated to beg outside, . . . Arthur Evans loved to go fast, even on a
mule, and was always envious of Halbherr's fine horse, until he finally
acquired a fast Turkish cob of his own.
By this time Evans had begun to realize the magnitude of
the task ahead of him. Here was the work of a lifetime, some-
thing which could not be hurried or scamped. He was also con-
scious of the world publicity which had been focussed upon him
since his first report in The Times. Old John Evans, an antiquar-
ian himself, was almost overjoyed at his son's achievement; and
in that year, 1901, managed to get out to Crete himself, although
he was then seventy-seven years of age. Together father and son
made a strenuous and adventurous journey across the island to
Gortyna, where Frederico Halbherr, the Italian archaeologist
who had always been a staunch friend of Arthur Evans, warmly
welcomed them. Halbherr was beginning to excavate another
Minoan palace at Phaestos, in the south, second only to Knossos
in size and beauty, and even superior to it in the splendor of its
126 THE BULL OF MINOS
site. Further to the east, at Gournia, two American scholars, Miss
Boyd and Mr. R. B. Seager, were excavating a Minoan town.
Later, Halbherr unearthed the beautiful "Royal Villa" of Hagia
Triadha, and French scholarship was to make its contribution by
excavating the small but very rich "Palace" at Mallia.
But Arthur Evans's greatest discoveries in 1901 took place
after his father had returned to England in April. He began to
find tiny clay seals which his phenomenal eyesight enabled him
to interpret. "Out of five different impressions, but overlapping
one another in design, I have been able to reconstruct a wonder-
ful religious scene; a goddess on a sacred rock or peak with two
lions in heraldic attitudes on either side of it, her temple behind,
and a votary in front. . . ." Even the layman can appreciate the
fascination of this discovery, for the two lions on this tiny seal
are identifiable with those flanking the Lion Gate at Mycenae;
and the Goddess, .with her typical Minoan flounced skirt and bare
breasts, stands above them. It is not impossible that originally
such a figure surmounted the central pillar between the My-
cenaean lions. Later, as we shall see, Evans was able to make a
profoundly imaginative interpretation of Minoan religion and its
Mother Goddess, who may well have been Rhea, the mother of
It was also in the early part of this second season that he
discovered the beautiful inlaid gaming table, set with crystal
and ivory mosaic, and gold settings, which may once have whiled
away the leisure hours of King Minos himself. "It gives," wrote
Evans, "an extraordinary idea of magnificence. . . ."
Architecturally the Palace continued to reveal fresh marvels.
Evans now began to excavate the east side of the central court-
yard, where the ground fell away steeply towards the river
Kairatos. And here he revealed the Grand Staircase, the most
impressive architectural achievement of that four-thousand-year-
old civilization which has come down to us (see Plate 29). More
important still, he not only revealed it, but, by the most skillful
and imaginative restoration, saved it from inevitable destruction.
It is evident [he wrote], that we are only just coming to the real
centre of the Palace buildings. We have now a hall with two column-
bases approached by a quadruple flight of stairs. Two of these, under
"AND STILL THE WONDER CREW" 127
the others, have had to be tunnelled out. A gallery with a wooden
colonnade ran round the west side of this room in two stages. Be-
yond the hall is a larger room, only partly excavated, with more col-
umn bases. It will probably prove to be the principal megaron (hall)
of the Palace. . . . Above the stairs are traces of a further higher
flight having existed, and in parts we find evidence of two storeys
above the basement. It is altogether unexampled and unexpected.
It now became clear to Evans that, while the buildings
around the upper courtyard, on top of the mound, were used
mainly for official purposes, the spacious domestic quarters of
the Royal Family were built much lower down on a platform
cut out of the steep eastern slope, overlooking the river valley.
Hence the need for this monumental staircase, originally of five
flights, of which three still exist. The Grand Staircase, as Evans
named it, and the suite of noble apartments to which it leads,
are themselves a monument to the skill of Evans and his archi-
tectural team. As they dug into the shelving hillside, they had
to support, strengthen and partially restore these high, toppling
walls, which otherwise would have collapsed into a heap of rub-
ble. How they did this will be described later.
As the work went on, more and more fragments of painted
frescoes came to light, but most were so small that restoring the
original picture was like solving a complex jigsaw puzzle with
the added complication that much of the puzzle was missing and
therefore had to be guessed. Yet this was just the kind of imag-
inative reconstruction which Evans loved, and he also had the
wisdom to engage a remarkable Swiss artist, M. Gillieron, who
possessed an extraordinary gift for patiently fitting together the
tiny fragments, sensitively and accurately restoring what was
missing, and then making accurate reproductions which were
then hung, as nearly as possible, in the position of the originals.
The latter were removed to the doubtful security of the Candia
Museum. All the objects found were, of course, the property of
the Cretan authorities, except for a few articles of which dupli-
cates existed. These Evans was able to take to England; they
can be seen, with some of Gillieron's lovely fresco reproductions,
at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford.
Evidently, during the period of its greatest glory, the coni-
128 THE BULL OF MINOS
dors, porches and rooms of state of the Palace of Minos had
glowed with rich and sensuous color, delicate blues and greens
and russet painted on smooth plaster. The Minoans may have
copied this method of decoration from the Egyptians, but in style
there is no resemblance between the stiff, highly conventionalized
art of most Egyptian wall paintings and the naturalism (com-
paratively speaking) of the Minoan frescoes. I say, "with most
Egyptian wall paintings," advisedly, because there is one and
only one period of Egyptian art which does show remarkable
similarity to that of Crete. This was the famous "heresy period"
under the Pharaoh Akhnaten, when for the first and only time the
rigid, hierarchical conventions of Egyptian art suddenly broke
down, and the royal artists ( it is believed under the direct guid-
ance of Akhnaten himself) painted human beings, birds, beasts
and flowers as they saw them and not according to an accepted
The significance of this departure is that it occurred round
about the year 1400 B.C. the generally accepted date on which
final disaster, earthquake or foreign attack or both struck the
Palaces of Crete, including Knossos. It is tempting to believe
though it is by no means proved that refugee Cretan artists may
have fled to Akhnaten's court at about this period.
Some of the frescoes represented human scenes; others were
charming decorative motifs, often drawn from nature flowers
and grasses, with butterflies flitting among them. The symbol of
the double axe, which we have already encountered among the
Mycenaean grave treasures, occurred frequently, and so did our
old friend, the figure-of-eight shield. At Mycenae Schliemann
had found it represented on tiny seals and signets, but here it was
employed, full size, as a wall decoration. It was now possible to
recognize clearly how the shield was made of a bull's hide,
just as Homer said, and strengthened with crosspieces, presum-
ably of wood. In one of the rooms of state, which Evans named
'The Hall of the Double Axes," he believed that actual shields
had hung on the wall as part of the decoration; so he had replicas
made of painted metal and hung in place. They can be seen
on Plate 40.
But the most fascinating of all these colored frescoes were
those representing Minoan men and women especially women.
"AND STILL THE WONDER GREW" 129
When these were first discovered and restored by Gilli&ron, they
caused wonder and astonishment throughout the world. And no
wonder for they were quite unlike the classical Greeks, unlike
the Egyptians, unlike the Babylonians, unlike any ancient people
whose painted or sculptured representations had survived from
the remote past. As far as the Minoan women were concerned
in their dress, manner and style of hairdressing, the nearest com-
parison which the astonished scholars could make was to the
fashionable beauties of their own time 1900! One savant, on first
seeing them, broke into the incredulous exclamation: "Mais, ce
sont dcs Parisiennesr
An examination of Plates 30 and 32 will explain his astonish-
ment. These highly bred Minoan ladies are evidently attending
some court function perhaps the reception of some foreign am-
bassador, or, more likely, a display of that strange, sinister sport
in which the young "bull leapers" exhibited their desperate skill.
The figures are shown on what seems to be a "grandstand"; and
in the background are sketched, in the economical method of a
modern cartoonist, a tightly packed crowd of faces, with black
hair, white dots for eyes, and white collars. The prevailing colors
are rust-red and buff. In the center of the "grandstand" is what
Evans believed to be the shrine of the Minoan goddess, distin-
guished by the "horns of consecration" which decorate its roof
(another allusion to the bull). But on either side of this central
shrine are groups of ladies, much more carefully drawn, and it
is these which form the subject of Plate 32.
Here is Evans's detailed analysis of these scenes.
... on either side of the miniature shrine are groups of ladies seated
and chattering, gaily dressed in the height of fashion, with elaborately
coiffured hair, engaged apparently in gay chit-chat and ignoring what
is going on before them. ... At a glance we recognize Court ladies
in elaborate toilet. They are fresh from the coiffeur's hand with hair
jris6 and curled about the head and shoulders; it is confined by a
band over the forehead and falls down the back in long separate
tresses, twisted round with strings of beads and jewels . . . the
sleeves are puffed, and the constricted girdles and flounced skirts
equally recall quite modern fashions. A narrow band appears across
the chest which suggests a diaphanous chemise, but the nipples of
the breasts are indicated beneath these . . . [giving] a dtcottett ef-
130 THE BULL OF MINOS
feet. The dresses are gaily coloured with bands of blue, red and yel-
low, showing white stripes and at times black striations. . . .
. . . The lively nature of the conversation between No. 3 (the
lady to whose coiffure the net belongs) and her neighbour at once
strikes the eye. The latter points her statement by thrusting forward
her right arm so as almost to lay her hand on the other's lap while
her confidante raises hers in amazement "You dont say so!" . . .
These scenes of feminine confidences, of tittle-tattle and society scan-
dals, take us far away from the productions of Classical Art in any
age. Such lively genre and rococo atmosphere bring us nearer to quite
modern times. . . .
As one by one these marvels were told to the world in
Evans's vivid reports to The Times and various periodicals, and
were supplemented by the comments of other visitors, the full
grandeur of Evans's achievement and the immensity of the task
which lay ahead of him became apparent. When he returned to
England in June, 1901, recognition of the importance of the
Cretan discoveries was general and immediate: Fellowship of
the Royal Society (June 6th, 1901), honorary degrees at Edin-
burgh and Dublin (also in 1901), and diplomas from foreign
Then, following this up, Evans announced, in an address to
the British Association in Glasgow, his proposed solution to the
difficult problem of dating the successive Knossian strata. It was
a bold, masterly solution, and though in later years Evans him-
self had to modify and extend it, in the main his principle of
dividing Minoan culture into three broad periods of develop-
ment Early, Middle and Late Minoan, synchronous with the
Old, Middle, and New Empires of Egypt, is still accepted today.
To devise such a system was in itself no small achievement for
one man, but Evans recognized that in the years ahead of him
it would be his task to build a structure of sound knowledge from
an amorphous mass of stone, pottery and fragmented frescoes;
and, like an honest builder, he had first to see that his foundations
INTO THE LABYRINTH
IN 1902, when Evans returned for his third season's digging at
Knossos, trouble arose over finances. Already he had spent some
forty-five hundred pounds, more than half of which was his own
money, but the rest of which had been raised by the Cretan Ex-
ploration Fund. For the benefit of those unfamiliar with the financ-
ing of archaeological work, it should be said that it is usual for
funds to be raised by a society or group of societies interested in
the project; most of the subscribers are people of moderate
means, but there are also universities, museums and other learned
institutions with more ample resources. But these people naturally
want to see that they are getting value for their money, especially*
the museums, which, in the early days, could sometimes expect
a proportion of the finds for their own collections.
At this point a sharp disagreement broke out between D. G.
Hogarth, Director of the British School at Athens, who had exca-
vated the cave sanctuary of Zeus, and Evans, with whom Hogarth
was now working in close collaboration at Knossos. Hogarth, as
a professional archaeologist, naturally took a salary and expenses.
Evans, who was "comfortably circumstanced" to put it mildly
could not understand this; to him it seemed like making money
out of religion. On Hogarth's side and they were both men of
strong character there was irritation at Evans's de luxe methods
of excavation, especially the expensive reconstruction of build-
ings, which, while greatly benefiting the lay visitor to the site,
went far beyond what was archaeologically necessary. There was
plain speaking on both sides, of which the following letter from
Hogarth must serve as example:
These expensive methods are yours in digging, as in collecting
and in ordinary life. You are a rich man's son, and have probably
132 THE BULL OF MINOS
never been at a loss for money. At the other pole to you stands Petrie
I see advantages in the methods of both. If you spend much more
in proportion than Petrie, you produce far worthier results in pub-
lished form, and one feels that nothing has been spared to obtain
expert accuracy. One can't feel that with Petrie's rough plans and
illustrations; nor again does he leave a site so that it is a gain for the
spectator [my italics].
The drawback of your method is that it does not appeal to peo-
ple's pockets. All P.'s "cave-man" plan of life has been deliberately
adopted to convince the subscriber that every penny goes into the
earth. There is no doubt that unless you sue in forma pauperis public
subscription will not follow you. That you cannot do. You are well
known as a collector of rare and costly things, and as your father's
son, and the public will not be convinced. I am not talking in the air,
for I am continually chaffed about the "princely" way things are done
in Crete, and I have lately heard that reports of our Cretan houses,
brought back I suppose by the big tourist parties, have decided some
old subscribers not to pay up again. For those houses I am, 1 know,
as much responsible as you. ... In a less degree the same difficulty
dogs me I and my wife do not look like P. and his wife. But to
live by public subscription we should have to! ...
In the same letter from Hogarth occurs a passage which sums
up the whole problem, and explains why Evans eventually de-
cided to shoulder the whole financial burden of excavation him-
self, to the lasting benefit of all visitors to Knossos.
Restorations like the Throne Room are not a question of methods,
but of the gratifying of a desire to reconstruct tangibly what must
otherwise only be imagined. But you justly admit that it is a luxury
which everyone cannot pay for, and perhaps others (the subscribers
to the Excavation Funds) can hardly be expected to pay for.
From that date 1902 onwards, for thirty years, Arthur
Evans devoted his life to the excavation and, in part, reconstitu-
tion of the greatest Minoan Palace in Crete; and he also pro-
duced, over a number of years, a work of literary scholarship
which, in the long run, will probably outlast even the stronghold
of Minos himself. For in this fevered world which we have in-
herited (and how Evans hated itl) no monument of stone, how-
ever ancient, beautiful or revered, is safe; all, equally, are at the
INTO THE LABYRINTH 133
mercy of "a boy in a bomber/' But perhaps, even after the holo-
caust of an atomic war, there may survive, in some remote place,
the great volumes of Evans's Palace of Minos. And if that should
happen, our surviving descendants can, if they wish, know as
much about the prehistoric civilization of the Aegean as we do,
though not one stone of the Palace itself should remain.
In a book of this scope it would be impossible and, indeed,
impertinent, to try to explain in detail all that Evans and his
professional colleagues on other sites such as Halbherr, Hogarth,
Boyd, Seager, Marinatos achieved in Crete during the first
twenty years of our century. All I can hope to do is to direct the
reader's attention to the books which tell the whole story, and, in
a few brief extracts, to give a taste of their quality. The full list
will be found at the back of this book, but as a starting point for
anyone wishing to learn more about the Minoan civilization, there
are four outstanding works which have given me pleasure not
only for the information which they contain, but because they are
extremely well written. First, of course, comes Evans's own Palace
of Minos but this is monumental, and before approaching it I
would recommend three smaller works. These are John Pendle-
bury's The Archaeology of Crete, Joan Evans's Time and Chance
( especially useful for Evans's family background and early years )
and Crete, the Forerunner of Greece, by B. M. and H. W. Hawes.
Without reflection, it is easy to fall into the mistake of im-
agining that only one archaeologist Evans discovered the pre-
historic civilization of Crete. True, he was the master discoverer;
he had the finest site, and the most money to spend on excava-
tion; but from 1900 onwards, when peaceful conditions made
investigation possible, a succession of scholars explored and exca-
vated in the island. Soon it became clear that there were many
scores of "Minoan" sites only awaiting the spade. Halbherr, at
Phaestos in the south, excavated a palace second only to Knossos
in size and grandeur.
Nearby, at Hagia Triadha, he revealed a "Royal Villa" with
superb frescoes, and here some of the finest examples of Minoan
art were found, including the famous "Harvester" vase, a fine
sarcophagus, and the steatite "rhyton" with boxers, illustrated in
this book (see Plate 41).
Miss Boyd and Mr. R. B. Seager found at Gournia, in the
134 THE BULL OF MINOS
east, the extensive remains of a Minoan town. Here Evans had
given the due. He had told Miss Boyd that there were Iron Age
tombs on the heights, two thousand feet above the isthmus; and
while excavating them in 1900, she became convinced that there
had once been a Bronze Age settlement somewhere in the vicin-
ity. A year later, with the help of Cretan peasants, she and her
colleague, Miss Wheeler, found the site. . . .
Within twenty-four hours thirty men were at work . . . cutting
down the carobs and digging trial trenches. ... In less than three
days they had opened houses, were following paved roads, and were
in possession of enough vases and sherds, bearing octopus, ivy-leaf,
double-axe, and other unmistakably Minoan designs, to make it cer-
tain that they had found an important settlement. . . .
Gournia is especially interesting because, unlike the princely
palaces of Knossos and Phaestos, it seems to have been an arti-
sans' town where, perhaps, were produced the superb examples
of pottery and faience which have been unearthed in the Palaces.
To quote just one paragraph from the Hawes book, Crete, the
Forerunner of Greece, originally published in 1909:
In a well-built house on the top of the ridge a whole carpenter's
kit lay concealed in a cranny. Was it deliberately hidden ander the
corridor floor by its owner, when the ships of the destroyers hove in
sight? In an adjoining room a horizontal black streak in the earth
showed where there had been a wooden board, now long burned or
rotted away, and on this housewife's shelf fourteen loom-weights of
clay and stone were ranged in order. Other houses contained vats for
washing oil, standing on stone benches, with the amphorae and stamni
before them to catch the liquid, just as they were left 3,500 years
ago. . . .
An interesting contrast to the Court ladies of Knossos. . . ,
Boyd and Seager at Gournia, Halbherr at Phaestos, Carr
Bosanquet and Dawkins at Praesos and Palaikastro, Hazzidakis
and Zanthoudides at point after point the rich soil of Crete
yielded its archaeological treasures to the questing Edwardian
scholars. Articles appeared in newspapers and learned journals;
theories were propounded, supported and demolished. Mean-
INTO THE LABYRINTH 135
while Evans, securely possessed of the finest archaeological site
on the island, became the leading authority on Minoan civiliza-
tion, to whom other workers gladly came for advice and help.
It is very important to understand his dating system, which
was sound and scholarly. It is usually difficult for the layman to
appreciate how an archaeologist can "date" a site when no written
records or positively dated monuments are available. We have
already seen how, at Troy, Mycenae and Tiryns, Schliemann and
his successors had not been able to fix even an approximate date
to their discoveries; they knew that the lowest layers or strata of
a long-occupied site must clearly be the oldest, but that was
about all. This gave ammunition to those who wished to discredit
the German's discoveries one "authority," for example, even
claimed that the Mycenaean graves were post-Christian. Yet
without positive proof of date it was impossible to disprove even
such absurd theories as this one.
How then were Evans, Hogarth, Halbherr and the other
archaeologists in Crete able to establish accurate dates? The
answer is through the Egyptian objects found on the sites.
It was fortunate for archaeology that the Minoans had had
cultural and commercial contact with the Egyptians from very
early times from the pre-Dynastic period, Evans believed.
Those who have read something of Ancient Egyptian history will
know that it is divided into thirty Dynasties, beginning in about
3200 B.C. and ending with the start of the "Graeco-Roman period"
in 332 B.C. The period of twenty-five hundred years from the first
to the end of the Twenty-fourth Dynasty (712 B.C.) is divided for
convenience into three main periods of development: the Old,
Middle and New Kingdoms; it is worth while trying to memorize
these, as they help in understanding how Evans dated the Mi-
At the beginning come the First and Second Egyptian
Dynasties (circa 3200-2780 B.C.). The almost legendary figure,
Menes, was the founder of the First Dynasty; he combined for
the first time the hitherto-separated Kingdoms of Upper and
Lower Egypt. There were, however, Egyptian kings before him,
as Amelineau and Petrie discovered; but the period before 3200
B.C. is called for convenience Pre-Dynastic.
Then came the first of the three great epochs into which
136 THE BULL OF MINOS
Egyptian history is divided the Old Kingdom (2780-2100 B.C.).
This period includes that of the great pyramid builders who ruled
from Memphis in Lower Egypt. It covers eight Dynasties, from
the Third to the Tenth.
Next comes the Middle Empire (2100-1700 B.C.), covering
the Eleventh to the Thirteenth Dynasties. This has been called
Egypt's "Feudal Age," and was one of considerable expansion to
both north and south. At the end of this period a time of weak-
ness and anarchy was followed by an invasion and occupation of
Egypt by Asiatic monarchs, known as the Hyksos or "Shepherd
Kings," who controlled the country for about a hundred and fifty
years until thrown out by a resurgent Egypt
Then followed the period of Egypt's greatest imperial ex-
pansion, the first part of the so-called New Empire (1555-712
B.C.). Only its first three Dynasties, from the Eighteenth to the
Twentieth, need concern us, as after that the ancient civilization
of Crete passed into oblivion. But this was the period of Egyptian
history of which most is known. It was the age of Tuthmoses III,
the "Napoleon of Egypt," who raised its military glory to its
highest point; of the powerful Amenophis III; and his fascinating,
enigmatical son Akhnaten, who began a religious revolution,
nearly lost an empire, and may well have welcomed Cretan artists
to his court The following two Dynasties, the Nineteenth and
Twentieth, saw a succession of powerful kings, several of whom
bore the famous name Harnesses, and one of whom, Harnesses III,
is recorded on Egyptian temples as having won a great victory
over the "sea peoples" who tried to invade Egypt round about
the year 1200 B.C. It was to have been a land invasion, supported
by naval forces. The land armies moved down from Syria, while
their navies accompanied them along the coast; but somewhere
between Syria and Egypt Harnesses met and defeated both, and
the invasion never took place. This episode, as we shall see, has
great relevance to the history of the Aegean civilization espe-
cially of Mycenae. After 1090 B.C. the end of the Twentieth
Dynasty the rest of the history of Egypt does not affect our
In an early stage of the excavations Evans had discovered in
the Knossian Palace "an Egyptian statue of diorite" which was
identified as belonging to the Twelfth Dynasty, and as the work
INTO THE LABYRINTH 137
went on, at Knossos and at other Minoan sites, other examples of
undoubted Egyptian manufacture were discovered. In themselves
these little objects a clay statuette, perhaps, or a tiny bronze
figure of the god Amun were valueless, but their importance
to the scholars was inestimable. Why? At the certain risk of being
accused of vulgarity by scholars, I am going to compare these
Egyptian trivia with the vital clues which the hero discovers in
a detective story the few threads from the suit of the murderer,
detected under the nails of the dead man, or an even more exact
parallel the fact that, when Mr. X was seen leaving the victim's
house, Mr. Y happened to notice that it was exactly eleven thir-
teen P.M. . . .
Let us suppose that Evans finds as he did an Egyptian
statue of the Twelfth Dynasty (2000-1790 B.C.) embedded in one
of the strata of the Palace of Knossos. He then knows beyond a
shadow of doubt that no object found in that stratum pottery,
faience, architectural remains can possibly be earlier than 2000
B.C. Of course a single statue might be by some odd chance a
survival from an earlier age, so that the closing date of the
Twelfth Dynasty ( 1790 B.C. ) might not be the latest possible date
for the archaeological strata in which the clue was found. But if,
at Knossos, or at another Minoan site, other Egyptian objects of
the same Dynasty are found in strata containing Minoan objects
of similar type, then it is safe to assume that such objects belong
to a period between the years 2000 and 1790 B.C. As the work
went on, at Knossos, Phaestos, Gournia, Mallia, other datable
Egyptian objects came to light; and with each of such discoveries
it became possible to establish earliest and latest dates for the
Minoan pottery and other objects among which the Egyptian
articles were found.
A moment's reflection will make clear the tremendous signifi-
cance of such finds. If, for instance, Eighteenth Dynasty Egyptian
objects were always accompanied by Minoan pottery, faience,
painted frescoes and architecture of a particular kind, then,
logically and naturally, all "Minoan" objects of a similar type,
wherever they were found in Cyprus or in the Cyclades must
belong broadly to the same period (allowing for the fact that
time must elapse before a fashion, originating in Crete, could
spread to the outer fringes of the Minoan Empire. )
138 THE BULL OF MINOS
By such methods Evans and other archaeologists in Crete
were able to establish that some of the Minoan deposits dated as
far back as the pre-Dynastic period of Egyptian history ( i.e., be-
fore 3200 B.C.).
Then the Egyptologists came to the aid of their colleagues
working in Crete. In Egyptian tombs it was customary to bury
numerous articles needed by the dead man in the Underworld
furniture, clothing, and vessels for food and drink. ( We have al-
ready noted the pictures of the mysterious Keftiu on the walls of
Egyptian tombs.) Now Egyptologists began to examine afresh
the objects found in Egyptian tombs, especially pottery. Among
them was pottery not of Egyptian provenance, which would now
be identified unmistakably with the Minoan ware now being
brought to light in Crete. So another check on dating could be
made. And as these finds both in Egypt and Crete were ex-
amined, re-examined, discussed and correlated, so, gradually,
Arthur Evans was able to draw up his Grand Design his chrono-
logical system of dating Minoan objects and similar objects found
in the other islands of the Aegean and the mainland.
For, as the work proceeded, archaeologists came to recognize
that this civilization, which Evans believed had originated in
Crete, had spread to other Aegean islands and even further east-
ward to Cyprus, and the coast of Asia Minor, and northward to
the mainland of Greece. In all these areas pottery was found
similar to, though not identical with, that found in Crete. Where-
as, at the beginning of Evans's digging, his finds were regarded as
Mycenaean, progress showed that there were real differences
from what had been found at Mycenae. A need arose for a set
of terms which would differentiate the characteristic cultures of
the different areas of the Aegean. Hence "Minoan'* came to be
used to describe prehistoric Cretan objects, "Cycladic" for the
islands and "Helladic" for the mainland. I introduce these tech-
nical terms only so that readers who wish to follow this subject
further ( as I hope they will ) will not be confused by the varying
names used by scholars to describe this prehistoric civilization of
the eastern Mediterranean.
Incidentally, non-archaeologists sometimes laugh at the at-
tention which experts pay to what appear to be uninteresting
fragments of pottery. But the archaeological value of pottery is
INTO THE LABYRINTH 139
precisely that it has no monetary value. Objects of gold and sil-
ver, or even of bronze and iron, will be stolen. But who cares
about heaps of broken fragments of pots, vases and cups? They
remain scattered, unheeded, on ancient sites for thousands of
years as I have seen them in Egypt as well as Greece. But to
the modern archaeologist they provide a definitive method of
dating a site. One no longer needs intuition or judgment to
achieve this; any young student who has gone through his course
can do it. Even I amateur as I am reached a stage when I
could pick up a fragment of a Mycenaean goblet and say non-
chalantly, "Ah Late Helladic III," without causing raised eye-
brows among my archaeological friends.
Evans's achievement was to mark off the three great periods
of Minoan civilization which could be correlated with the three
great periods of Egyptian civilization the Old Kingdom, the
Middle Empire and the New Empire. He wrote in The Palace of
For this considerable space of time, extending over some two
thousand years, the divisions here adopted into three main sections,
the "Early," "Middle" and "Late" Minoan, each in turn with three
periods of its own, will not be thought too minute. It allows, in fact,
for each period an average duration of nearly two centuries and a half,
the earlier periods being naturally die longer. This triple division, in-
deed, whether we regard the course of Minoan civilization as a whole
or its threefold stages, is in its very essence logical and scientific. In
every characteristic phase of culture we note in fact the period of
rise, maturity, and decay. Even within the limits of many of these
periods are such distinct ceramic phases that it has been found con-
venient to divide them into two sections (a) and (b).
The three main phases of Minoan history roughly correspond
with those of the Early, the Middle and the earlier part of the New
Kingdom in Egypt. . . .
Now, at last, it was possible to establish dates for the dis-
coveries of Schliemann and Dorpfcld at Troy, Mycenae, Tiryns,
Orchomenos and elsewhere. For it was recognized that some of
the pottery, arms, jewels, ornaments, etc., found in the shaft
graves at Mycenae and at Tiryns, were demonstrably Minoan in
type, though some were pretty certainly made by mainland
140 THE BULL OF MINOS
craftsmen following a Cretan model. Thus it was established that
the treasures found in the Mycenaean shaft graves were dated
from a late period of Minoan civilization, circa 1600 B.C. prov-
ing that they were far older than the Trojan War, and could not
possibly have belonged to Agamemnon and his companions.
And yet, in the scale of Minoan civilization, they were late
very late; only two hundred years before the catastrophe which
overtook Knossos in 1400. Yet Crete could boast a highly de-
veloped civilization more than a thousand years earlier than that.
. . . Deeper and deeper went the bewildered but fascinated
archaeologists, groping among the very roots of European pre-
history. And in the lead, his torch held aloft to penetrate the
darkness of the labyrinth, strode Arthur Evans.
THE VILLA ARIADNE
I SAT before a blazing fire in the big, comfortable drawing room
of the Villa Ariadne. Manoli, after piling on more sweet-smelling
logs, had gone to bed. The de Jongs, who had joined me for din-
ner, had returned to their cottage. It was two hours since I had
watched the yellow light from Piet's torch moving slowly down
the winding path until it disappeared behind the cypresses. Now
my hosts too were in bed and probably asleep, and I fancied that
I alone was awake. In fact I had never felt more intensely awake;
the slightest creak from the wainscoting, the intermittent fluting
of some creature in the dark garden outside, made me start.
On my knees lay one of the heavy volumes of Evans's great
work, The Palace of Minos, richly bound in blue, with the head
of the Minoan Priest King embossed in gold on the cover. I had
read the volumes before, in far-off London, but to hold one in my
hands now, while sitting alone at night in Evans's former home,
with the Palace itself waiting in the darkness outside, pro-
duced an excitement which was almost too intense. I tried to
concentrate on the page before me, but fancied movement in
the garden outside brought me to my feet. It was nothing; just
the moving shadow of one of the cypresses, but I had to go to
one of the tall sashed windows and look out.
There was a full moon, and the palms stood quite still
and black against the luminous sky, the edges of their leaves
tipped with silver. About five hundred feet away stood a statue
of the Emperor Hadrian, blanched by the moonlight, Evans had
found it in the ruins of a Roman villa near the Palace it had
probably formed part of the garden ornament of some Roman
official had dug it up and made it serve the same purpose in
his garden. There stood the Emperor, the man who had built the
great wall from the Tyne to die Solway in my own country, look-
142 THE BULL OF MINOS
ing rather splendid on his plinth, with his toga draped gracefully
over one arm. And yet . . . Hadrian . , . really, the man was
almost my contemporary compared with the Minoans! When he
made his tour of the Roman Empire in when was it, A.D. 120-
125? the last pale flame of Cretan civilization had guttered out
more than a thousand years before. Hadrian had lived some
eighteen hundred years before our time. Yet eighteen hundred
years before Hadrian's time, Crete had known a civilization in
many respects finer than that of Rome.
I went back to the fire and then noticed, for the first time,
the formidable head of the Minoan Bull a plaster cast which
hung on the wall to the right of the fireplace. It was black, with
gold horns, white nostrils and bright, red-rimmed eyes, and as
I moved around the room, taking out books from the shelves,
examining pictures and ornaments, those little red eyes seemed to
follow me. . . .
Filled with a strange, restless elation, I left the drawing
room to explore the rest of the empty villa. I moved from room
to empty room, switching on the naked electric lights which
gave to much of the house a severe "institutional" appearance.
A curious, dry, antiseptic smell permeated the air, and my foot-
steps gave back ringing metallic echoes, for Sir Arthur, who
had planned the Villa Ariadne, had built it of concrete on a
steel framework as a protection against earthquakes. Here and
there lay cardboard boxes filled with fragments of broken pot-
sherds, left by the students of the British School at Athens.
Plaster casts of treasures found in the Palace hung on the dis-
tempered walls; in the hall was a fine copy of the "charging-bull
fresco" a massive relief of a red bull with lowered head hurtling
across a pale blue ground. And nearby, in incongruous contrast,
hung pleasantly sentimental landscapes of a type which I had
seen in many ex-German messes during the war relics of the
occupation, when the villa had been the headquarters of the
German High Command.
Returning to the first floor, I found the library. Here were
hundreds of books bearing on almost every aspect of Aegean
and Egyptian archaeology. Some were new to me. Others were
old friends. Greedily I took down book after book and, staggering
under my load, returned along the echoing corridor to the warm,
firelit drawing room. There I sat on the rug before the fire, spread
THE VILLA ARIADNE 143
the books around me on the floor, took out my notebook and
tried once again to focus my mind on the story of Arthur Evans
and his colleagues from the point at which I had left them in
From 1903 onwards, Evans divided his time between Oxford
and Knossos. He would come out to Crete in late winter or early
spring, work until the summer heat made further excavation
impracticable and return to England in summer or autumn. A
few years earlier he had given up his home in Holywell, Oxford,
bought sixty acres of land on Boars' Hill, outside the city, and
built himself a house there. He called it Youlbury, after the
piece of heathland which it overlooked, and, in his leisure hours
in England, exercised his imagination by creating a romantic
landscape garden, "trying," in the words of a relative, "to make
his bit of Berkshire look as much like Bosnia as possible." As
an illustration of his intense love of natural beauty, the following
quotation from one of his letters is typical:
... In the woodland fringe of the opposite Cotswold and Chil-
tern hills splendid is the impression left by the acres of rose willow-
herb spread along the slopes. But no sight surely in Nature's wild
garden can excel the view near at hand of Hen Wood in May with its
dreamy haze of bluebells, stretching between the oaks, wherever a
vista opens, as though some mirage had reversed the blue of heaven;
or, as a child once put it, "as if a bit of the sky had fallen down/'
Denied children himself, he loved to have them around
him; he adopted Lancelot Freeman, the young son of Margaret's
brother. One child at Youlbury made a good excuse for inviting
others, and the big house above the "dreamy haze of bluebells"
was rarely without the sound of children's voices. He also bought
a car, at a time when it was adventurous to possess one, and loved
to go for long journeys in it, preferably as fast as possible.
Soon he had decided to build another Youlbury for himself
in Crete. Now that he could foresee many years of work ahead
of him, the Turkish house he had taken in Herakleion was no
longer practicable, being too far from Knossos. So, in 1906,
Christian Doll, who had succeeded Theodore Fyfe as Evans's
architect, built the Villa Ariadne for him. It embodied many
144 THE BULL OF MINOS
of Evans's own ideas; basement bedrooms for coolness in sum-
mer, and steel and concrete construction for strength. Around it
he formed a pleasant Mediterranean garden of palms and cy-
presses and purple-flowered bougainvillaea. This became his
spring and summer residence for many years, from which he
ruled his domain like a grand seigneur. The villa was both his
home and his workshop. Here he entertained fellow-scholars,
such as Halbherr, and the many distinguished visitors attracted
to Crete by the fame of his discoveries; and here, in the evening
after the day's work, he would sit with Doll, Duncan Mackenzie,
Hogarth and others, planning, discussing, arguing and preparing
for the enormous task of "publishing" the finds.
The layman might think that the principal justification for
excavation is the uncovering of the site itself. To the archaeol-
ogist such work is almost valueless unless every part of the
site has been "published" i.e., fully described, with every
object, down to the smallest fragment of pottery; with indica-
tions of their position and relation to other objects; and with
a complete set of photographs, plans and drawings. Even a
modest site belonging to a known culture, e.g., Egyptian or
Babylonian, may take years to publish adequately; but Evans
was faced with the accumulation of more than two thousand
years' continuous habitation of one place, embodying the ex-
tensive ruins of several palaces, and belonging to an unknown
civilization which he could interpret only in the light of his own
intuition and judgment.
In 1908, his father, John Evans, died at the age of eighty -five,
leaving Arthur the bulk of his fortune. Only a few months later
the death of a cousin brought to him the Dickinson estate. At
fifty-seven, Arthur Evans found himself a richer man than even
his father had been.
One of Evans's greatest disappointments was that he never
succeeded in deciphering the mysterious Minoan script which
had first attracted him to Crete. After more than thirty years of
wrestling with the problem, he eventually had to write, in The
Palace of Minos:
. . . the widespread hopes of its early interpretation were not veri-
fied. . . . According to every indication such as that supplied by
THE VILLA ARIADNE 145
the local and personal names of pre-Hellenic Crete, and even the ap-
preciable verbal survival in Greek itself the root affinities of the or-
iginal language lay on the Anatolian side [i.e. in Asia Minor]. The
phonetic value of the signs themselves was itself unknown, and
though light on them might be obtained from the early Cypriote syl-
labary, even this . . . only exists in a limited degree. . . . All I
have been able here to attempt after copying over 1,600 documents
of which the whole or some material part has survived ... is of a
most preliminary nature.
He decided that the numerous clay tablets, which had so
excited him when he found them near the western storerooms
of magazines, were merely inventories. **, . . it appears that the
documents in an overwhelming degree refer to accounts and
lists of persons and possessions" and he managed to decipher
the numerals. And John Pendlebury, the brilliant young scholar
and friend of Evans who was Curator of Knossos in the thirties,
had to admit in his ArcJuieology of Crete that:
. . . what the language of the Minoans was is as yet impossible to say
except that it was not Greek ... it would be a profitless task to
guess at it. The material is there and is arranged. We can only hope
for a bilingual clue; perhaps one day a bill of lading in Egyptian and
Minoan will be found at Komo. Even then it may turn out to be a
dead language which has left no descendant behind to help in its
Some of the material is contained in Evans's book, Scripta
Minoa, which he published in 1909, after optimistically persuad-
ing the Clarendon Press to cast a complete fount of Minoan type.
Unable to decipher the writing which in any case, he
suspected, might not include historical records Evans was
forced to interpret the Minoan civilization through its buildings,
its art and, above all, through the tiny engraved seal stones and
signets found in such abundance and of which he had now
amassed a large collection. "Complete in themselves," he wrote,
"these little intaglio types often serve as an epitome of more
fully elaborated works of the great Art, whether in relief or
painting, only fragmentary remains of which have been pre-
1 "Linnar B" was deciphered in 1952. See Appendix "B."
146 THE BULL OF MINOS
served." Here again his microscopic sight, and his feeling for style
and stylistic development, trained through long years of numis-
matic study, aided him greatly. It is in this imaginative, yet exact
and scholarly, interpretation of tiny objects that Evans's genius
appears most clearly.
For example, what did the Minoans believe? What deities
did they worship? Evans discovered, chiefly through the tiny
scenes on the bead seals, that there appeared again and again
a female figure, sometimes alone, sometimes with acolytes and
adorers, who was clearly a goddess. Sometimes she stands on a
peak, with lion supporters. Sometimes she is bareheaded, and
occasionally in seals and statuettes belonging to the later, more
sophisticated "Palatial" period she wears the fashionable dress
of the Minoan court lady, with tight-waisted bodice and naked
breasts, and a crown or tiara (see Plate 32a). Evans called
her the "Minoan Mother Goddess." Occasionally she is accom-
panied by what appears to be a male deity, but he is never in a
position of equality; he may be considered her son. A delightful
ivory statuette of this "boy god*' (now in the Ashrnolean Mu-
seum) is shown on Plate 42. Could this Mother Goddess, 2 thought
Evans, be associated with Rhea, and was the boy god her son,
On other seals and later-discovered statuettes, the Minoan
goddess was shown holding a snake in each outstretched hand
(see Plate 32a), or in still other instances the snakes were
wreathed tightly around her arms. Among primitive peoples
today the snake is often revered; anthropologists and students of
primitive religion have observed that the cult of the snake is often
associated with the propitiation of an earth deity. After close
study of Minoan scenes, together with those from other ancient
cultures in which snake cults were practiced, Evans suggested
that the Minoan Snake Goddess was the Mother Goddess in her
aspect as "Lady of the Underworld"; the reason for this insistence
on the propitiation of the Earth became clear to him later, as
we shall see.
We have mentioned the "Room of the Throne," which
1 Some scholars disagree with Evans. Professor Nilsson, for example, be-
lieves that the figures which Evans thought represented one goddess actually
represent several, each with her own attributes.
THE VILLA ARIADNE 147
was a chamber rather like a cathedral chapter house, with a
throne in the middle of the broadest wall, flanked by stone
benches on each side. It fronted and overlooked a rectangular
pit, approached by flights of steps, which at first the excavators
took to be a bath, but which Evans later decided was a "lustral
area" i.e., a place in which some ritual of anointing took place.
As he dug in other parts of the Palace, more of these "lustral
areas" came to light. All were elaborately built. All were ap-
proached by pillared flights of steps; none of them had been
built to retain water; nor was there any provision for the release
of waste water which the Minoans, expert hydraulic engineers,
would certainly not have omitted had the mysterious pits been
baths. Then, from other parts of Crete, came reports of similar
lustral areas" Halbherr found them in the Palace of Phaestos,
and there were others at Mallia. Had they, mused Evans, some
connection with the earth cult? He became more and more con-
vinced that they had a religious purpose, and that, indeed, much
of the Palace, especially the western half, was devoted to a
religious cult. In fact Minos or a race of kings who may have
borne that name had probably been Priest Kings.
Unlike their cousins, the Egyptologists, the archaeologists
of Crete had no written documents to guide them; nor had the
Minoans been as obliging as the Ancient Egyptians who used
the walls of their temples to preserve pictures and written records
of historic events. They seemed quite uninterested in recording
triumphs, battles, treaties and conquests, unlike the Egyptians
and the blood-lusting Assyrians. 3 Instead they painted delightful
scenes from nature, flowers and birds and trees, processions of
noble youths like the Cup-bearer and the even lovelier fresco
of the Priest King, discovered near the southeast entrance
scenes of public ceremony, sport or ritual at which the Court
ladies prinked and chattered and, again and again, on corridor
walls, in miniature statuary, and on the tiny bead seals the
Had the bull, too, some religious significance? Evans noted
that on the seals and signets, on the fresco paintings and else-
where, appeared the conventionalized symbol of the bull's horns.
*This is all the more remarkable as the Minoans were in contact with
Egyptians for more than a thousand years.
148 THE BULL OF MINOS
Sometimes it appeared as a frieze above the roof of a shrine of
the Mother Goddess. At others it appeared in conjunction with
that other familiar Minoan symbol, the double axe. On the south
side of the Palace he found remains of a huge specimen of these
"Horns of Consecration" which at one time had evidently sur-
mounted the roof of the Palace, so that all approaching from the
southern road could see it. Evans reinstated it near the same
position (see Plate 20). Nevertheless, as his researches continued,
he decided that the bull had not been worshipped as a diety,
but that it may have been considered a favorite animal of the
earth god, and was therefore sometimes sacrificed to him. The
presence of the Minoan goddess (as shown in the wall paintings)
at the "bull-leaping" sports seemed to suggest that this ceremony,
too, may have been a sacrifice. Theseus and the Minotaur the
twelve Athenian youths and maidens was there some connec-
The bull-leaping frescoes fascinated people far beyond the
limited circle of professional archaeologists. Wherever these
extraordinary pictures were reproduced, with their slim-figured
Minoan acrobats dark-skinned men and pale-skinned girls,
both wearing the same scanty costume they aroused contro-
versy. Was such a fantastic feat possible? In the Villa Ariadne
and in his study at Youlbury, Evans pored over the pictures, try-
ing to penetrate the mystery. Here he is describing the fresco
reproduced on Plate 36.
In the design . . . the girl acrobat in front seizes the horns of a
coursing bull at full gallop, one of which seems to run under her left
armpit. The object of her grip . . . clearly seems to be to gain a
purchase for a backward somersault over the animars back, such as is
being performed by the boy [identified conventionally by his darker
The second female performer behind stretches out both her hands
as if to catch the flying figure or at least to steady him when he comes
to earth the right way up. The stationing of this figure handily for
such an act raises some curious questions as to the arrangements
within the arena.
Some authorities refuse to believe that such a performance
was possible. Professor Baldwin Brown, for instance, showed
THE VILLA ARIADNE 149
the pictures to a veteran "steer wrestler" from the American
Far West, who refused to believe that it could be done. "You
couldn't catch hold of the bull's horns for the start of the
somersault," he said, "for there's no chance of a person being
able to obtain a balance when the bull is charging full against
him." The bull, he added, is three times as strong as a steer, and
when running, "raises his head sideways and gores anyone in
front of him." So, as no one has so far offered to put the matter
to a practical test, the mystery remains a mystery.
It was while studying the Minoan cult of the bull that
Evans made a discovery which perfectly illustrates his imagina-
tive interpretation of a tiny detail one among many such ex-
amples. On Plates 34 and 35 are reproduced two scenes from
the two famous golden cups found at Vapheio and first published
more than ten years before Evans dug at Knossos. These richly
wrought vessels were thought at first to be "Mycenaean." After
Evans's Knossian finds they were recognized to be Minoan in
style, probably imported from Crete, or alternatively produced
on the mainland by Cretan artists. The discovery of the bull
frescoes at Knossos aroused new interest in the Vapheio cups,
as the subject of their lively reliefs was the trapping of wild
bulls. In the topmost picture, which shows one side of a cup,
slim-waisted young Minoans are trying to catch a bull in a
wooded glade. A net was stretched between two trees and the
bulls driven towards it. In another Vapheio relief a bull is shown
firmly meshed in the net, but in the scene we have shown, the
animal has evaded the trap, throwing down one hunter, who
falls helplessly on his back, while the other desperately grasps the
animal's horns in an effort to bring him down. And the figure on
the horns, said Evans, is a girl. "She has locked her legs and
arms around the monster's horns in such a way that it is im-
possible for him to transfix her."
The figure on the Vapheio Cup, thus desperately at grips with the
horns of the great beast, is certainly that of a girl, in spite of the
sinewy limbs it displays. This fact, not apparently noted in any de-
scription of the scene, should be clear to any one intimate with
Minoan iconography who remembers the parallel wall paintings in
which the sex is declared by the white skin color ... in the present
150 THE BULL OF MINOS
case the luxuriance of the locks is in striking contrast to those of the
fallen youth in front, which have . . , a short appearance. . . .
These scenes, Evans thought, paralleled the "bull-leaping
frescoes" which adorned the walls of the Palace of Minos. First
the animals were hunted and trapped in the open. Later they
were made to perform for more sophisticated audiences in the
bullring of the Knossian Palace. In each case the young men and
women pitted their skill against the animals.
But the most interesting illustration of Evans's observation
is in the other scene we have illustrated, which comes from the
second Vapheio cup (Plate 34). The two animals were thought
by earlier archaeologists to be two bulls; indeed, apart from
their faces they look very similar. Yet, as Evans discovered,
the animal on the left is a decoy cow, introduced by the wily
hunters to entrap the bull. The Minoan artist, realizing that the
body of the cow would be almost entirely hidden by that of
the bull, had to find some means of indicating its sex. He did
this by showing it with raised tail the normal reaction of a
cow when sexually roused. It was this tiny detail which gave
Evans the clue. The three scenes on the cup became perfectly
clear. The first (not visible in our picture) now shows the bull
nosing the cow's tail. In the second (illustrated):
. . . the bull's treacherous companion [writes Evans], engages him in
amorous converse, of which her raised tail shows the sexual reaction.
The extraordinary human expressiveness of the two heads as they turn
to each other is very characteristic of the Minoan artistic spirit.
In the third scene (out of sight):
. . . the herdsman takes advantage of his dalliance to lasso the mighty
beast by the hind leg. The bull is seen with head raised, bellowing
with impotent rage.
These reliefs had been known to archaeologists for more
than twenty years before Evans pointed out their true meaning.
For season after season he continued his patient excavation,
clearing, and, where necessary, reconstituting the Palace of
Knossos. Unreflecting visitors to Knossos have sometimes criti-
THE VILLA ARIADNE 151
cized Evans for his "reinforced concrete restoration." Such
criticisms are unintelligent; he had no alternative.
The upper stories [he wrote], of which, in the Domestic Quarter,
three successive stages were encountered had not, as in the parallel
case of other ancient buildings, been supported by solid pieces of
masonry or brickwork, or by stone columns. They had been held up in
a principal degree by a timber framework the huge posts of which,
together with the shafts of the columns, were either supplied by the
cypress forests, then existing in the neighbouring glens, or by similar
material imported from over sea. The reduction, either by chemical
powers or by actual burning, of these wooden supports had thus left
vast voids in the interspaces. The upper floors had indeed, in a manner
that sometimes seemed almost miraculous, held approximately at their
levels by the rubble formation that had insinuated itself below due
largely to the falling of bricks of unburned cky partly dissolved
from the upper walls.
At the same time, whenever this intrusive material was removed
there was nothing to prevent the remains of the upper fabric from
crashing down to a lower level.
First Evans tried wooden beams and posts, but they tended
to rot rapidly; then pieces of masonry and shafts and capitals
cut laboriously from stone, while brickwork arches and girders
supported the upper pavements; but this was not satisfactory
and cost too much even for Evans. Finally he decided to use
reinforced concrete, which is very strong, looks well, and can be
The cost of excavation and restoration became greater
every year, but Evans was determined that die Palace should
be presented to the world in a form that not only the archaeol-
ogist could appreciate, but so that even the least imaginative
lay visitor could feel and respond to its wonder. In this he
succeeded beyond measure. But physical restoration of walls,
floors, columns, porticoes, satisfied only a part of Evans's nature.
It was more difficult, and therefore more attractive, to discover
the moral and spiritual bases of the Minoan civilization. What
had this ancient people believed, hoped, feared? Why this ap-
parent insistence on the propitiation of the earth? Why the cult
of the snake emblem of the earth? Why the mysterious "lustral
areas" the steps leading down into the earth?
152 THE BULL OF MINOS
Further evidence of mysterious religious practices came
to light also linked with earth worship. At Knossos, Phaestos
and elsewhere in Crete the archaeologists came upon subterran-
ean crypts dark underground chambers, the central feature of
which was always a heavy stone pillar. Sometimes these crypts
lay beneath surface buildings, but generally speaking, the central
pillar was far more substantial than was needed to support the
superstructure. Sometimes there was no superincumbent build-
ing, but the pillar was still as massive, and often inscribed with
the sign of the double axe. In some cases there would be a drain
near the pillar presumably to take the blood of sacrifice. Evans
called these chambers ''Pillar crypts."
When Evans was able to date more accurately the successive
strata under the mound of Kcphala, he noticed that although
Knossos had been almost continuously occupied since the New
Stone Age (circa 4000 B.C. to 3000 B.C.) until about 1100 B.C.,
there had been breaks in the chain of development marks of
catastrophe in the form of broken walls and charred timbers.
Three especially severe disasters seemed to have occurred : round
about 1700 B.C., between the end of the Middle Minoan period
and the beginning of Late Minoan, and again in about 1400 B.C.;
and there were signs of others. These could have been caused
by foreign attack, by local insurrection or by civil war. Or,
thought Arthur Evans, could they have been caused by earth-
He had pondered upon this possibility for some time. He
knew that Crete lay in a seismic area, and he consulted the
medieval and modern history of the island to see if the shocks
appeared to follow a definite cycle. He found that six especially
destructive earthquakes had taken place in Crete in six and a
half centuries. "That space of time," he wrote, "almost exactly
corresponds with the duration of the great Minoan Palace into
its successive phases, and we are almost bound to infer that the
same natural forces must largely account for the signs of ruin
that here mark successive stages of the building."
Here, perhaps, lay the answer to the mystery of those
Tbstral areas" flights of steps leading into the earth itself
perhaps they had been used for some ceremony of earth propitia-
During his later excavations Evans had a curious and
THE VILLA ARIADNE 153
slightly sinister experience, which strengthened his belief in the
"earthquake" theory. He had been digging outside the Palace
wall on the southeastern side, when his workmen *. . . struck the
corner of a small house ... of the Third Middle Minoan period
. . . this little house had been ruined by huge blocks hurled
some of them over twenty feet by what could have been no
less than a violent earthquake shock. . . . The house was never
rebuilt but, like another in the adjoining area west, was filled
with materials derived from the contemporary ruin.'*
The little house appeared to have belonged to an artisan
a lamp maker and a number of unfinished lamps were found
among the ruins. Near this "House of the Fallen Blocks" was
another, which seems to have been damaged at the same time,
and here the excavators made a significant discovery. In the
northwest and southeast corners of the southern basement had
been set the heads of ". . . two large oxen of the urus breed, the
horn-cores of one of which were over a foot in girth at the
base. . . ." These sacrificial relics, which were carefully placed
near tripod altars, could, said Evans, have only one significance.
"The methodical filling in of the building and its final relinquish-
mcnt as a scene of human habitation had been preceded by a
solemn expiatory offering to the Powers below."
Bulls had been sacrificed to the Earth God. As they examined
the remains, the excavators found it easy to imagine the solemn
warning which may have been issued by the Minoan priest, forty-
eight hundred years ago, against all who might attempt to undo
Then, says Evans, just as the workmen completed the task
of clearing this "House of Sacrifice" at 12.15 p.m. on April 20,
1922, "a short, sharp shock, sufficient to throw one of my men
backwards, accompanied by a deep rumbling sound, was expe-
rienced on the site, and throughout the region. . . ."
And he remembered that in the Iliad, Book Twenty, Homer
In Bulls does the Earth-shaker delight.
It was two in the morning.
The fire had sunk into a mass of red embers. I felt cold and
cramped. Gathering together my pile of books, I placed them
154 THE BULL OF MINOS
carefully on the table, hoping I would remember to return
them to the library in the morning. Somehow there seemed no
point in carrying them back along that shadowy corridor tonight
I switched off the light, and, as I closed the door before de-
scending the creaking stairs to my basement bedroom, saw,
silhouetted against the dying glow of the fire, the profile of the
Minoan bull. . . .
THE PALACE OF THE SEA KINGS
EABLY next day, after Manoli had served breakfast in the austere
dining room, I strolled along the winding path past Hadrian and
the bougainvillaeas, scrambled down a slope and so reached the
narrow lane which leads to the Palace. It was a way which Sir
Arthur must have used thousands of times, and I sensed his un-
seen presence, swinging the formidable Prodger, and acknowl-
edging the respectful salutes of the villagers.
Knossos lies in a hollow, half hidden by trees, with vineyards
climbing the lower slopes of the gentle hills which enclose it on
east, west and south. Only the northern side, the way to the sea,
lies open. And though the Palace stands on a mound, it is a
mound largely of its own making, the debris of more than two
thousand years' occupation.
Piet de Jong met me at the gatekeeper's lodge. We passed
through the screen of cypresses and, as we came out into the
sunlight, I saw, for the first time, the Palace of Minos. Even
then it did not reveal itself all at once. A wall of finely cut
masonry hid the view immediately ahead, but to the right, I saw
the spacious northwest courtyard and the northwest entrance to
the Palace. Over the threshold, past low walls and carefully kept
pavements, a turn to the left, and I was in the reconstructed frag-
ment of the columned Propylaeum Hall. It was here that Evans
had found the Cup-bearer fresco, the first portrait of a Minoan
to be discovered. The original pieces now hang in the Herakleion
Museum, but here, on the brightly sunlit wall, hung one of Gil-
Ii6ron's brilliant copies. For a split second the purist in me pro-
tested against all this reproduction, but was instantly silenced.
For it is no use comparing a Cretan Palace with the great
monuments of Egypt, where the dry air has preserved walls and
columns and architraves in their original state for three thousand
years. Though hot and dry in summer, Crete has torrential winter
156 THE BULL OF MINOS
rains, and next to human destroyers, damp is probably the great-
est enemy of ancient monuments. Its destructiveness is all the
greater when, as at Knossos, much timber was used in the con-
struction. The walls, especially in the earlier Palaces, were timber-
framed, and the columns, which supported roofs, porches and
stairways were all of timber. When the Palace was sacked (or set
on fire by an earthquake it is not decided), the wooden pillars
and framing burned, and such timber as escaped the fire has long
since rotted away under the damp earth.
The walls collapsed, the roofs fell, so that the only possible
way in which Evans and his colleagues could show the original
appearance of the Palace was by a painstaking reconstruction of
typical fragments, such as the Propylaeum Hall and the North
Portico (see Plate 25). Perhaps, in his enthusiasm, Evans may
have gone a little too far that is a matter of opinion but on
large parts of the site he had only two alternatives to reconsti-
tute or leave a rubbish heap. None the less, as de Jong pointed out
to me, every fragment of original work which could be recovered
was kept, and an impressive proportion of the Knossian Palace,
especially in the Domestic Quarter, is original Minoan masonry,
untouched for thirty centuries.
Piet showed me the system Evans had adopted to denote
the original construction of the Palace in his careful reconstruc-
"In a decayed wall," he said, "we would often find evidences
of the original stone 'chases' [grooves] into which the timber
framework was fitted. When we rebuilt the wall we replaced
the rotted wood with concrete, and painted it pale buff, to indi-
cate wood. The rest of the wall we rebuilt as far as possible with
the original stone blocks."
Along the wall the two Cup-bearers * marched in slow,
stately procession; slim-waisted, broad-shouldered, with proud,
aristocratic features and curling black hair (see Plate 23). Now
at last I began to sense the strangeness of Knossos. We were only
a few hundred miles from Egypt, with which the Minoans had
been in contact for two thousand years. Yet there was nothing
Egyptian in the faces or dress of these people. I thought of the
wall paintings I had seen in the tombs of Luxor, those solemn,
1 Originally there was a long procession of these youths.
THE PALACE OF THE SEA KINGS 157
stiff, hieratic figures in their robes of gauffered linen; these
Minoans were quite different. They looked more European than
Asiatic though Evans believed they came originally from Asia.
Yet they were not like the classical Greeks. Who were they?
Where had they come from? How tantalizing of them to have
left us no history!
But de Jong, the practical architect, was speaking again.
"People often ask why they made their columns with a
downward taper," he said. "Do you know?"
"No. Was there any special reason?"
"It's never been properly settled. I think the most feasible
theory is that, as the columns were made from tree trunks, they
placed them root upwards, with the broadest part of the trunk
at the top, to prevent the trees sprouting again. Or it may have
been just to leave more space at the bottom. These columns here,"
he added, slapping the big rust-colored pillars of the Propylaeum,
"are concrete, of course. But we know they stood here, because
we found the column bases, and the capitals lying nearby."
I asked him how he ascertained the height and proportion
of the columns, but this, he assured me, was only a matter of
careful surveying and comparison with architectural remains
found on other parts of the site. Sometimes impressions of the
columns remained in the earth, though the wood had rotted
"You know," said Pict, "one of Sir Arthur's greatest gifts was
his capacity for visualizing. He could tell, just by looking at a
few broken stones, a fallen column and a few bits of fresco,
exactly how the whole room or building originally looked. And
he'd get most impatient if his architect couldn't see it just as
quickly. Yet when the architect had surveyed and measured the
site, and studied all the architectural evidence, the fact is that
Sir Arthur was nearly always right."
Among the valuable evidence was that of the painted
frescoes, which often depicted buildings with the typical Minoan
tapered column. These were a great help when making recon-
structions. Some of the most useful information on the shape and
appearance of Minoan houses was obtained from representations
in the form of small faience plaques only a few inches square.
"But the coloring" I exclaimed. "The place must have
158 THE BULL OF MINOS
glowed with color. How did you know, for instance, that the
columns were a russet, and that their capitals were sometimes
blue, sometimes black?"
"From the frescoes," he replied, as we turned to the left into
the great gallery leading to the magazines. "You'll see. But first
let me show you something/' He led the way into a broad, stone-
paved corridor from which opened numerous long, narrow rooms,
the walls standing to a height of six feet or more and in some
cases roofed over. "Now very little of this has been recon-
structed," he said. "What you see now is practically all Minoan.
We just put back the roof."
We were in the storerooms of King Minos; the repository of
his wealth. The rooms were nearly all full of great earthenware
jars, some more than six feet high; originally they had contained
oil, grain, dried fish, beans, olives; for in the days of the Minoan
thalassocracy, wealth was not only in gold and precious things.
Let into the floor of the rooms were narrow stone-lined cysts or
chambers, originally hidden under stone slabs (see Plate 22).
"These," said de Jong, "were a kind of safe deposit; at one
time in the history of the Palace they were used for storing pre-
cious things the kind of things Schliemann found in the shaft
graves of Mycenae. In fact, Evans suggested that the Mycenaean
treasures may actually have rested here at one time. But he found
hardly anything when he uncovered these cysts in 1900 just a
few fragments of gold to show what had been there once. They
were all thoroughly plundered when the Palace was sacked and
burned. Look at the marks of the fire see?" And he pointed to
the edge of the pit.
There, unmistakably, on the northern edge, was the mark
of black, unctuous smoke, almost certainly made by burning oil.
Elsewhere I saw many other evidences of fire, and always the
telltale stain showed that the smoke had been blown to the north.
So a south wind was blowing when the great Palace fell. . . .
As I followed the Curator up a flight of broad steps to the
Central Court, a curious, faint uneasiness began to mingle
with my delight and wonder. I am not a superstitious man; I
have no belief in the supernatural; and my journalistic experience
has trained me to observe and report facts. But I have to admit
THE PALACE OF THE SEA KINGS 159
that, in spite of the keen spring air, the sunshine, and my own
pleasure in visiting Knossos, the atmosphere of the Palace de-
pressed me. It was there is no other word for it sinister.
But now, in the spacious Central Court, I was able to drink
in the full splendor of Knossos. Standing in the center and look-
ing north towards the sea, I could see on my left the official
quarters of the Palace, from which Crete had been administered
in the days of Knossian supremacy. Though only the lower storey
of these ruined buildings remained, still they stirred the mind;
and above them storey upon storey had once stood. These had
been rooms of state approached by flights of broad, shallow steps
flanked by columns, and lit by a system of light wells (as in
modern hotels and office blocks) which allowed a soft indirect
light to penetrate while avoiding the direct rays of the hot sum-
mer sun, or the icy winter winds ( see Plate 26 ) . Though most of
these rooms have vanished, their character is known through the
almost miraculous preservation of the Domestic Apartments on
the eastern side of the Great Court, to which de Jong now led
To reach them we had to descend the famous Grand Stair-
case, itself the greatest monument of Knossos; a monument not
only to the Minoans, but, let it be added, to the extraordinary skill
of Christian Doll, the architect who preserved it, We crossed the
Court and began the descent. The steps are of gypsum, a smooth,
white, crystalline stone, much used by the Minoans for the
interiors of their buildings. Originally there were five flights, but
the two upper storeys have left only slight indications. But as
we went lower, I walked down three full flights which must have
looked exactly the same to the Minoan courtiers and ladies as
they followed in the train of the Priest King more than thirty-six
hundred years ago. On my left, as I descended, was the Minoan
wall, originally covered with gay frescoes in the now-familiar
tones of pale blue and russet. On the right was a low balustrade
overlooking a central wall which gave light to the stairway. Ris-
ing from the balustrade were stout Minoan columns of the
familiar downward-tapering form, supporting the landings above.
The column bases, with their sockets, were original; and when
Evans, Christian Doll and the rest aided by Greek miners
160 THE BULL OF MINOS
tunnelled into these depths some fifty years ago, they found the
carbonized stumps of the original wooden columns still remaining
in their bases. The present columns, of identical shape to the
originals, are of concrete masked with stucco. I recalled Evans's
description of how he and his staff dealt with a huge wall which
threatened to topple and destroy all that was left of this master-
piece of the Minoan master architect (could his name have been
The middle staircase wall above the first flight was found to have
a dangerous list outwards involving a continual risk to the remains of
the whole fabric. , . . Under the superintendence of our trusty over-
seer Gregorios Antoniou, the wall was first harnessed and secured by
planks and ropes; its base was then cut into, along its whole length
on either side; wedge-shaped stones and cement were held in readiness
for insertion in the outer slit, and sixty men on the terrace above were
then set to pull the ropes secured to the casing. The mighty mass
was thus set in motion, and righted itself against the solid wooden
framework prepared as a stop. This was then removed, and the whole
structure refixed in its upright position. By these various means it
has been possible to maintain the staircase and balustrade at their
original levels, and thus restore to the modern world the structural
aspects of this great work which dates back some 3,600 years. . . .
(See Plate 29.)
All the expense of this tremendous work was borne by the
Evans fortune. Evans was a rich man, admittedly, but it is worth
noting en passant that not all men of wealth spend it on yachts
and race horses. And, conversely, can anyone even the most
passionate advocate of state control imagine a modern "pro-
gressive" Government spending a quarter of a million pounds
on preserving an ancient monument even if it was vital to the
history of our civilization? If Knossos had been discovered today,
Evans, presumably, would have had to apply for a grant from
the impoverished British Council. . . .
The struggle to preserve the Grand Staircase was truly
dramatic. It had all the classical elements of conflict between
the archaeologists on one hand, and Time and Decay on the
other. Here is part of Evans's own account from The Palace of
THE PALACE OF THE SEA KINGS 161
. . . The hewing away of the clay concretions and the extraction
of the various rubble and earthy materials of the intervening spaces
left a void between the upper and lower spaces that threatened the
collapse of the whole. The carbonized posts and beams and shafts, al-
though their form and measurement could be often observed, were
splintered up and exposed and, of course, could afford no support. The
recourse to mine props and miscellaneous timbering was almost tem-
porary and at times so insufficient that some dangerous falls occurred.
To relax our efforts meant that the remains of the Upper Storeys
would have crashed down on those below, and the result would have
been an indistinguishable heap of ruins. The only alternative was to
endeavour to re-support the upper structures in some permanent man-
ner. In the early days of the excavation the Architect, Mr. Christian
Doll, who manfully grappled with his Atlantean task, had perforce
largely to rely on iron girders, brought from England at great expense,
and these were partly masked with cement. . . . Even then, wood,
which it was hard to obtain properly seasoned, was allowed to play a
part in these reconstructions. . . .
The cypress trunks and beams that had supported such masses of
masonry in the old work were of course no longer obtainable, but we
had to leurn that even the pinewood of Tyrol, imported through
Trieste . . . could be reduced to rottenness and powder in a few
years by the violent extremes of the Cretan climate. . . .
It was not until reinforced concrete with its interlacing
web of steel wires was introduced in the twenties, that Evans
found an answer to his problem how to provide enduring sup-
port for heavy masses of masonry, and how to roof large spaces
cheaply and strongly. So the twentieth century A.D. came to the
aid of the twentieth century B.C. Daedalus, one feels, would have
At the foot of the Grand Staircase we entered a short cor-
ridor leading to a suite of splendid rooms, and here I knew I
was surrounded by genuine Minoan walls. It was the first time
I had stood within a king s palace belonging to a period con-
temporary with the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Dynasties of the
Egyptian Pharaohs (1600-1350 B.C.), and the effect was over-
whelming. In Egypt the royal palaces were usually temporary
structures made of sun-dried bricks, of which only foundations
remain. There only temples and tombs were built for eternity;
how paltry are the remains even of the Palace of the magnificent
162 THE BULL OF MINOS
Amenophis III at Medinet Habou, compared with the tombs of
Amenophis and his descendants in the Royal Valley at Luxor.
But at Knossos one walks through rooms which once heard the
seductive rustic of the Minoan ladies' flounced skirts, and echoed
to the murmur of gossip and music. There, in his high-backed
throne under the wall of shields, sits Minos himself ... in that
far corner a group of elegant young men arc gambling; between
them lies the inlaid gaming board which Evans found nearby.
And not far away Minoan ladies, jewels glittering on their ivory
breasts, are discussing fashion, destroying the reputations of ab-
sent friends, and perhaps recalling the amazing performance of
that young Athenian in the arena on the previous day. What was
the barbarian's name . . . Theseus? "Did you notice how the
Princess looked at him? But it was obvious, my dear, he just had
to win . . . "
Then Pict broke into my fantasy. "Sir Arthur called this room
the Hall of the Double Axes/' he said. "Come over here and 111
show you something."
There was a row of columns dividing the Hall of the Double
Axes from the adjoining room. But let into these columns were
recesses which proved that at one time folding doors had existed
which in winter would be kept closed for warmth. In summer,
however, the doors could be neatly folded back into the recesses
in the columns, allowing a free flow of cool air.
Then the Curator pointed to a low plinth on the northern
wall of the Hall. "We think there was a throne here," he said,
"just like the one in the Room of the Throne on the west side
of the Court I'll show you that later. But that had some religious
significance, while these were purely the private apartments of
the Royal Family. You see Sir Arthur put in a wooden replica
of the throne to replace the one that's disappeared."
On each side of the throne hung a great figure-eight shield,
full-sized, big enough to have covered the body of a Minoan
warrior. Behind them, on the stucco wall, was a painted spiral
band. I had first seen this curious body shield, so like that de-
scribed in the Iliad, on the Mycenaean daggers which Schliemann
had found in the shaft graves, and on the tiny bead seals which
Evans had reproduced in his Palace of Minos. Now here were
two of them, hung on the wall of one of the principal rooms of
THE PALACE OF THE SEA KINGS 163
the Palace of Minos itself, more than one thousand years older
"They're not the original shields, of course/' said de Jong,
"but Evans found that in the rooms which once existed above
the Hall of the Colonnades there had been shaped shields painted
on the walls, connected by a spiraliform band like a dado. Well,
here, in the Hall of the Double Axes, there was the dado all right
but no shields, Sir Arthur reckoned that instead of painted
shields there may have been real shields hanging on the wall as
a decoration. So he told Gillieron to make accurate painted
copies, and hang them on the wall on each side of the Throne.
And there they are" ( see Plate 40 ) .
Then he led me through a short, twisting corridor into the
most private apartments of the Palace, which Evans, sensing a
certain femininity in the surviving decoration, named "The
Queen's Megaron." Here all was lightness and grace. There were
low seats around the walls, which were bright with gay frescoes
of natural scenes. Dark blue dolphins sported on an eggshell-blue
ground; there were starfish, and spiky "sea urchins" or "sea
eggs" realistically drawn, yet all conforming to the over-all
decorative pattern. One wall opened on to a columned light well
from which a soft illumination filled the interior (see Plate 31).
On the other side a doorway led to a further suite of smaller
rooms, accessible from the main salon, but not from outside. Here
was a little bathroom, with an earthenware bath shaped almost
exactly like its modern descendant. The bath had evidently been
filled by hand presumably by a handmaiden but nearby was
a hole in the pavement through which the waste water could be
poured into the main drain.
An adjoining room, smaller than the bathroom, had un-
doubtedly been a W.C. In Evans's words:
On the face of a gypsum slab to the right is a groove for a seat
about 57 cm. from the floor. Outside the doorway of the latrine is a
flag [stone] sloped towards a semicircular hole, forming a sink, and
from this opens a small duct leading to the main drain. The aperture
leading to the main drain, partly masked by ^ curious projection, de-
viates from the centre of the seat, thus leaving room on the right for
some vessel used for flushing the basin. As an anticipation of scientific
164 THE BULL OF MINOS
methods of sanitation, the system of which we have here the record
has been attained by few nations even at the present day.
It is typical of our technological age that, for most lay visitors
to the Knossian Palace, none of its aesthetic treasures make such
a profound appeal as this thirty-six-hundred-year-old latrine. In-
deed, for anyone to whom sanitation and civilization are synony-
mous, Knossos is irresistible. It is a Plumber's Paradise. Great
stone channels led the water from the roof to underground drains,
and these shafts, says Evans, were themselves ventilated by air
shafts and made accessible by manholes:
... so roomy that my Cretan workmen spent whole days in them
without inconvenience. The elaborate drainage system of the Palace
and the connected sanitary arrangements excite the wonder of all
beholders. The terra-cotta pipes, with their scientifically-shaped sec-
tions, nicely interlocked, which date from the earliest days of the
building, are quite up to modern standards. . . . The slightly taper-
ing form of the sections of which the terra-cotta pipes were composed
. . . were admirably designed to impart a shooting motion to the
flow of water so as to prevent the accumulation of sediment. . . .
But the most remarkable example of Minoan hydraulic
engineering is on the Northeast Bastion, to which de Jong took
me after we had reclimbed the Grand Staircase. Here is a noble
flight of steps leading from the northeast angle of the central
court to the lower ground near the river. These steps were in the
open air, and a channel had been cut at the side of each flight to
carry away rainwater. That in itself did not seem very extraor-
dinary, until de Jong showed me the scientific construction of
these channels. Each flight of steps (which were quite steep)
was at right angles to the next, and the problem of the Minoan
engineers was to get the water round the corners without its
overflowing onto the landings. If the water ducts at the sides had
been mere flat-bottomed slopes, the rainwater would have rushed
down them at such velocity that inevitably it would have over-
flowed at the first corner.
The trick was to slow down its speed; and this was done
most cunningly by making the bottom of the water channels
in a series of parabolic curves. The curves themselves almost
THE PALACE OF THE SEA KINGS 165
exactly agree with the natural parabolas that the water falling
down a slope at such an angle would make. Therefore the water
reached the bottom of each flight at about half the speed it would
have attained had it poured down the slope in a straight line
instead of in a series of jumps. "Nothing," writes Evans, "in the
whole building gives such an impression of the result of long
generations of intelligent experience on the part of the Minoan
engineers as the parabolic curves of the channels."
Nor was this all. A series of catch pits collected the sediment
on its downward course, so that when the water reached the
bottom of the steps it was still pure and fit for washing purposes.
And Evans adds, with one of those charming Homeric touches
of which he was so fond, "the special fitness of rainwater for
washing linen warrants the conjecture that the tank was used
for this purpose, and Minoan Nausikaas 2 may have made their
way here from the Palace halls above."
This northeast quarter of the Palace seems to have contained
workshops for the artisans. In one of them Piet showed me a
block of puq->le Spartan basalt, half sawn through. There it lay
on the floor, just as the workman had left it. Why had he left his
work unfinished? Again, I felt that slight sense of unease which
I first noticed when I saw the marks of fire in the great magazines.
We walked across the court again to the west side, where in a
gallery above the Room of the Throne were hung some of Gil-
Heron's brilliant copies of the frescoes I had come so far to see.
There they were the fresco of the bull leapers, the fresco of the
grandstand with the chattering ladies, the products of a civiliza-
tion which, sixteen hundred years before Christ, had already
reached and passed its prime; was, in fact, decadent. All the
charm, the intelligence, the jaded sophistication of a rich, de-
clining culture were present in those delicate paintings. But
there was something else, too, something which had haunted me
since I entered the Palace, a sense of doom, a smell of death.
Evans believed that an earthquake had brought about the
final destruction of Knossos. Pendlebury, a younger scholar, be-
lieved that it was sacked, probably by a force from the mainland
* Nausikaa, the daughter of King Alcinous of Phaecia, was surprised by
Odysseus when she and her maidens were playing by the seashore after wash-
ing the family linen.
166 THE BULL OF MINOS
of Greece. I believe that Pendlebury was right, I feel that the
Minoan culture, as represented in the Knossian frescoes, had
passed its apogee before 1400, had overripened and become
rotten; and that when the invaders came, whoever they were
probably Homer's "bronze-clad Achaeans" they only hastened
an end which was inevitable.
But the end must have been very terrible on that spring day,
fourteen hundred years before Christ, when the wind was blow-
ing strongly from the south . . . even now something of the
terror lingers in marks of fire, in blackened walls and floors,
fragments of charred timber grim evidence of the fatal day
when the raiders came. One draws breath with wonder at the
delicate beauty of the wall paintings; at the slim, effeminate,
dark-skinned youths with their narrow waists and black, curling
hair; at the groups of chattering, elegant women with their pale
ivory skins, jewelled necklaces and hooped and flounced skirts.
And then one thinks of the last day the women running scream-
ing through the frescoed corridors, the desperate fighting in
doorways and staircases, the master craftsman disturbed at his
work, leaving one stone jar half finished the warrior lying dead
across his great body shield the smell of smoke, the sound of
crashing timbers, the splash of blood on the white gypsum pave-
ment. . . .
"Come and have a look at the Throne Room," said Piet.
The Room of the Throne is die most dramatic room in
Knossos, and I was glad de Jong had left it to the last. We entered
the low-ceilinged outer chamber, opened a wooden gate and
were in the Throne Room itself. It was not very large, of rec-
tangular shape, the broadest side being on the right. On this
long, right-hand wall crouched two magnificent painted griffins
lionlike creatures with the heads of birds, in the now-familiar
russet on a pale blue ground. Between the guardian griffins rose
the Throne of Minos himself, still in its original place, with its
high "wavy-edged" back and anatomically shaped seat. On each
side of the Throne, and extending to the flanking walls, were low
stone benches. The impression of a "cathedral chapter house"
as suggested by Evans was very strong (see Plate 21).
In front of the Throne, to the left of the door, broad steps
led down to one of those mysterious pits the "lustral areas" or
THE PALACE OF THE SEA KINGS 167
"ritual impluvia" which Evans believed had been used in con-
nection with some ceremony of anointing. In the antechamber
outside still stood stone and earthenware jars which had been
found on the site, an$ which seem to have been used in this
ceremony. Other smaller rooms opened out of the Throne Room.
One of them seems to have been a kitchen, and it may well have
happened that on certain occasions the Priest King retired to
this suite of chambers and isolated himself from the rest of the
community for an extended period perhaps days, perhaps
It was all so baffling. If only the Minoans had left written
records which we could understand!
"Well," said Piet, "that's about all in the Palace itself, apart
from the North Portico and the Theatral Area, which we can see
this afternoon. Ill have to get back to the Tavcrna, but you've no
need to hurry if you want to stay. But lock the door after you
when you go."
As the Curator's footsteps died away, I sat on the oldest
throne in Europe. It was extremely comfortable. There was no
sound outside. In front of me the dim light from the upper storey
filtered down into the ritual pit, flanked by its tapering, russet-
colored columns. Then I recalled a passage from a book which,
next to The Palace of Minos, is probably the most authoritative
and scholarly work yet written on the Minoan civilization: John
Pendlebury's The ArcJiacology of Crete.
Now there is a name [he wrote], which is always associated with
the sack of Knossos, at least with the liberation of its subjects
Theseus. Names have a habit of being remembered when the deeds
with which they are associated are forgotten or garbled. ... It has
already been suggested that the six youths and six maidens may have
been the mainland quota for the bull-ring at Knossos. This is just the
type of detail that would be remembered, the more so in that it may
well have been the sentimental reason without which no purely com-
mercial war can ever take place. No doubt the rape of Helen was a
very good rallying cry when the Mycenaean Empire wished to break
through to the Black Sea trade which Troy was keeping to herself.
And, in the last decade of the fifteenth century on a spring day,
when a strong south wind was blowing which carried the flames of
the burning beams horizontally northward, Knossos fell. . . .
168 THE BULL OF MINOS
. . . The final scene takes place in the most dramatic room ever
excavated the Throne Room. It was found in a state of complete
confusion. A great oil jar lay overturned in one corner, ritual vessels
were in the act of being used when the disaster came. It looks as if
the King had been hurried there to undergo, too late, some last cere-
mony in the hopes of saving the people. Theseus and the Minotaur!
Dare we believe that he wore the mask of the bull?
"THE OLD TRADITIONS
IN the year 1911, at the age of sixty, Evans was knighted; an
honor bestowed not only for his work in Crete, but for his over-
all contribution to learning. Three years earlier he had resigned
his Keepership of the Ashmolean, in order to devote all his
time to Knossos; but by that time his triumph over the reaction-
ary elements in the University was complete. At the time of
Evans's resignation, the new Chancellor, Lord Curzon, had
written to him, "Your real monument is the Ashmolean itself,
now organized and equipped on a scale that renders it absolutely
unrecognizable to the Oxonian of twenty-five years ago. . . ." At
the same time Evans retained the honorary post of Visitor to the
Ashmolean, which enabled him to keep an eye on its affairs, as
he did to the end of his life, besides making generous gifts to it.
During the 1914-18 war he kept a vigilant eye on those
centers of learning which tend in wartime to be brusquely treated
by the military authorities. Always in times of national emergency
there are Jacks-in-office who take advantage of their brief author-
ity to make stupid and arbitrary use of their powers. When such
people crossed the path of Sir Arthur Evans, they usually got
For example, in the early years of the war, the Air Board
tried to requisition the British Museum, and began roughly
moving the collections to make room for civil servants. This, to
Sir Arthur, was the "breaking in of the jungles." In letter after
letter to the great newspapers, in public speeches and in private
conversation, he lashed the Philistines.
In a notable speech he described the "surprise visit" of an
Air Board official, followed by the Board's request to the Cabinet
for permission to requisition the Museum as their headquarters.
170 THE BULL OF MINOS
In the teeth of vigorous protest by the Trustees, "the order was
actually given by the Cabinet," but "this monstrous proposal,
'which both as Trustee of the Museum and President of the So-
ciety of Antiquaries, I did something to expose, raised a general
storm of indignation, not only among the accredited representa-
tives of Art and the Historic Sciences, but throughout the Press."
The order was withdrawn the Air Board suddenly discover-
ing that "it did not need the building after all. . . .*
But, in the meantime, much harm had been done. Galleries
had been hurriedly cleared to make room for clerks. Evans spoke
of "weeks of labour in the clearing out of three large galleries,
to the final undoing of the work of a century and a half . . .
entailed by the wanton caprice of a Government Department
which, after having occasioned all this trouble and expense, came
to the conclusion that they did not find the accommodation suit-
able!" Where was all this to end? he demanded.
. , . the treatment of the British Museum, the incalculable de-
struction there of the results of generations of learned labour and
classification, the commandeering for there is no other word of
the University Press, show that those who control our Administration
are inspired by a Philistine spirit for which we shall in vain seek a
parallel among civilized Governments. Ruthless proscription, the re-
sult of panic action, threatens at every turn the very sanctuaries of
learning. Those who represent its interests are doubtless a very in-
ferior race in the eyes of politicians. We are not concerned to dispute
their verdict, but it is well to remind them that even the lowest tribes
of savages have their reservations. . . .
Some may smile cynically at this outburst, remembering the
far more deadly attacks on the citadels of culture during and
since the recent war: the wholesale destruction of museums,
galleries and works of art; the persecution and murder of non-
conforming artists and scholars in totalitarian countries; the post-
war "witch hunt" in America. But I think such cynicism is mis-
placed. Sir Arthur and his generation stood for absolute stand-
ards. They could not imagine a lowering of those standards, and
when the attempt was made, they fought bitterly. In the end
they lost, but they, and not the Philistines, were right. We are
In 1916, when a move was made to expel certain German
"THE OLD TRADITIONS WERE TRUE" 171
Honorary Members from the Society of Antiquarians, Evans, in
spite of the wave of hate which was sweeping the country, and in
spite of his own revulsion against the barbarities being committed
on sea and land, kept his head and spoke for reason and modera-
tion. "The existence among German Honorary Fellows of savants
belonging to that noble class of which the late Dr. Helbig stood
forth as a conspicuous example should give us pause before we
carry out any too sweeping measures. In spite of the Gospel of
Hate, let it be said to their credit, the learned societies and
academies of Germany, with inconsiderable exceptions, have re-
frained from striking their English members from the rolls/'
And he ended his address with the noble words:
We cannot shirk the fact that tomorrow we shall be once more
labourers in the same historic field. It is incumbent on us to do noth-
ing which should shut the door to mutual intercourse in subjects like
our own, which lie apart from the domain of human passions, in the
silent avenues of the past.
I put down the account of Evans's address, closed the old,
faded pamphlet and replaced it on the shelves of the library in
the Villa Ariadne. I felt depressed. These fine exhortations, this
splendid, selfless endeavor, had they not all been futile? Another
war had come and gone, and the sons of the men with whom
Sir Arthur Evans had "laboured in a common field" of learning,
had parachuted from the sky of Crete and themselves occupied
the Villa Ariadne as a military headquarters. Admittedly, they
had not harmed it seriously, nor the Palace. Only one tomb, at
Isopata, has been destroyed by a German N.C.O. who, not real-
izing what it was, had turned it into a gun emplacement (the
punishment which his commanding officer afterwards ordered
would have made even Sir Arthur feel sorry for the sergeant).
The war had ended, and the Germans had handed back the Villa
Ariadne almost intact, with every article of its original furniture,
accompanied by an accurate inventory. So perhaps some civilized
instincts remained, even during war. . . . Perhaps Evans and his
German confreres had not labored entirely in vain.
I had been at Knossos for nearly a week, living at the Villa
172 THE BULL OF MINOS
Ariadne and making excursions into the surrounding country.
I had seen the Palace many times, in early morning, in the late
evening, even by moonlight. I had taken my notes and photo-
graphs, and tomorrow I was to cross the mountain chain to reach
the other great Palace of Phaestos, in the south. And on the fol-
lowing day I had to fly to Athens, and so back to cold, misty Lon-
As I put back Evans's Presidcntal Address to the British As-
sociation, I noticed a group of notebooks with faded covers, rest-
ing on a lower shelf. I picked out one at random; it was filled
with pencilled diagrams of pottery and notes in a small, careful
handwriting. The signature was "D. Mackenzie." . . .
So these were Duncan Mackenzie's own notebooks; Macken-
zie, the taciturn, talented Scotsman whom Evans had admired so
much, and who had developed a unique system of dating pottery.
I fingered the pages . . . tried to decipher the abbreviated sym-
bols "L.M.lb" (Late Minoan, First Period, Second Subdivision)
and so on.
Poor Mackenzie had suffered long under a mental illness to
which he eventually succumbed. Long before he had finally to
leave Knossos, he had been subject to fits of depression and
nervous irritability which Evans, quick-tempered himself, bore
with extraordinary patience. When, after long years, news
reached Sir Arthur of Mackenzie's death, he wrote, in his Palace
of Minos, a tribute of extraordinary tenderness.
His Highland loyalty never failed, and the simple surroundings of
his earlier years gave him an inner understanding of the native work-
men and a fellow feeling with them that was a real asset in the course
of our spade-work. To them, though a master, he was ever a true
comrade. The lively Cretan dances revived the "reels" of his youth.
No wedding ceremony, no baptism, no wake was complete without
the sanction of his presence, and as sponsor, godfather, or "best man,"
his services were in continual request. There still fall on my ear the
tones of that "still small voice" as he proposed the toast of a happy
pair with sly jocose allusions, fluently spoken in the Cretan dialect
of modern Greek but not without a trace of the soft Gaelic accent.
After the First World War, Evans had returned to Crete.
Costs were higher, but he was a rich man; and, after re-engaging
his Cretan workmen, he continued to excavate and restore the
"THE OLD TRADITIONS WERE TRUE*' 173
Palace of Knossos. Piet de Jong joined him in 1922 the third of
Evans's resident architects. After the First World War de Jong
had worked for Professor Wace at Mycenae. Evans had been so
impressed by the architect's plans of the Mycenaean fortress that
he had invited him to come to Knossos.
In 1921 appeared the first volume of his long-awaited Palace
of Minos of which further volumes were to appear at intervals
during the next fourteen years. It was a monumental achieve-
ment; four great books (Volumes 2 and 4 were so enormous that
each had to be issued in two sections ) totalling more than 3,000 m
pages, with more than 2,400 illustrations many of them in
color. Most of it was written at Youlbury, his Berkshire home.
How he worked is described by his half sister, Dr. Joan Evans:
The library was big enough to take any number of bookcases on
the floor, apart from the bookshelves that lined its walls. Here he could
work at his great book classifying the material by the simple process
of setting up a fresh trestle table for each fresh section, and moving
from one to the other like a chess player engaged in multiple games.
... In truth he needed space; his material was overwhelming; and
he took advantage of none of the modern methods in dealing with it.
He had neither secretary nor typewriter, and still used a quifi pen.
Sir John Myres wrote of the work: "The difficulty of such a
composition was exceptional, for new discoveries were being
made throughout the forty-two years since Evans landed in Crete.
But throughout its 3,000 pages the vast work reads like a saga;
there is always the great design, within which each topic and
digression takes its place."
From this work almost unique among archaeological books
in that it combines detailed scholarship with bursts of brilliant
descriptive writing I have already quoted typical passages. I
would like to add one more, because it strongly reveals Evans's
poetic imagination. Here, in Volume 3, he is describing the re-
constituted Grand Staircase:
The Grand Staircase, as thus reconstituted, stands alone among
ancient architectural remains, With its charred columns solidly re-
stored in their pristine hues, surrounding in tiers its central wall, its
balustrades rising, practically intact, one above the other, with its
imposing fresco of the great Minoan shields on the back wall of its
174 THE BULL OF MINOS
middle gallery, now replaced in replica, and its still well-preserved
gypsum steps ascending to four landings, it revives, as no other part
of the building, the remote past. It was, indeed, my own lot to experi-
ence its strange power of imaginative suggestion, even at a time when
the work of reconstitution had not attained its present completeness.
During an attack of fever, having found, for the sake of better air,
a temporary lodging in the room below the inspection tower that had
been erected on the neighbouring edge of the Central Court, and
tempted in the warm moonlight to look down the staircase well, the
whole place seem to awake awhile to life and movement. Such was
the force of the illusion that the Priest-King with his plumed crown,
great ladies, tightly girdled, flounced and corseted, long-stoled priests,
and after them a retinue of elegant and sinewy youths as if the Cup-
bearer and his fellows had stepped down from the walls passed and
repassed on the flights below.
It was this quality of imagination which helped him to solve
one of his baffling archaeological problems the significance of
the mysterious "lustral areas," the subterranean "pillar crypts/'
and even of the bull itself. For a long period he had suspected
that these pits and crypts were associated with the propitiation of
an earth deity, perhaps represented by the Minoan goddess her-
self in her aspect of Lady of the Underworld. That the bull also
entered into this worship he was certain; we have noticed the
significance he attached to the two sacrificed oxen found in the
House of the Fallen Blocks. But confirmation came in most
dramatic form on a warm summer night in June, when Sir Arthur
was resting in one of the basement bedrooms of the Villa Ariadne.
My own mind . . . was full of past earthquakes and the fore-
boding of a new convulsion when on June 26 ... at 9.45 in the
evening of a calm, warm day, the shocks began. They caught me
reading on my bed in a basement room of the headquarters house, and
trusting to the exceptional strength of the fabric, I chose to see the
earthquake through from within. Perhaps I had hardly realized the
full awesomeness of the experience, though my confidence in the full
strength of the building proved justified, since it did not suffer more
than slight cracks. But it creaked and groaned, and rocked from side
to side, as if the whole must collapse. Small objects were thrown
about, and a pail, full of water, was nearly splashed empty. The
movement, which recalled a ship in a storm, though of only a minute
and a quarter's duration, already produced the same physical effect
"THE OLD TRADITIONS WERE TRUE" 175
on me as a rough sea, A dull sound rose from the ground like the
muffled roar of an angry bull [my italics]; our single bell rang, while
through the open window came the more distant jangling of the
chimes of Candia Cathedral, the belfry as well as the dome and cupo-
las of which were badly damaged. As the quickly repeated shocks
produced their cumulative effect the crashing of the roofs of the two
small houses outside the garden gate made themselves audible, min-
gled with women's shrieks and the cries of some small children, who,
however, were happily rescued. . . . Meanwhile a mist of dust, lifted
upwards by a sudden draught of air, rose sky high, so as almost en-
tirely to eclipse the full moon, some house lights reflected on this dark
bank giving the appearance of a conflagration wrapped round with
smoke . . .
The archaeological sequitur of this is very important. When, as in
the great Palace of Knossos we find evidence of a series of overthrows,
some of them on a scale that could hardly be the work of man, there
seems real reason for tracing the cause to the same seismic agen-
cies. . . .
It is something to have heard with one's own ears the bellowing
of the bull beneath the earth who, according to a primitive belief,
tosses it on his horns. It was doubtless the constant need of protection
against these petulant bursts of the infernal powers that explains the
Minoan tendency to concentrate their worship on the chthonic aspect
of their great goddess, wreathed with serpents as Lady of the Under-
world. Certain structural features, moreover, peculiar to the old Cretan
cult suggest the same explanation. Such were the "lustral basins'*
which were not made for the purpose of holding water, but to which
votaries descend, often by double flights of steps, for some ritual
function that seems to connect itself with Mother Earth. Such, too,
were the "pillar crypts," windowless, and only lit by artificial light,
the massive central piers of which, associated with the sacred double
axe, were provided with vats beside them to receive the blood of
He was seventy-five when he had that experience. Some
years before he had decided to give the Palace, the Villa Ariadne
and its estate to the British School of Archaeology at Athens, ne-
gotiations for which took several years. 1 Meanwhile, from the age
of seventy onwards, he had taken enthusiastically to flying. Each
1 In 1952 it was handed over to the Greek Government, rising costs and
postwar stringencies having made it impossible for the British School to
176 THE BULL OF MINOS
year he would fly out to Athens, and if possible, get a seaplane to
In his eightieth year he still enjoyed travel and delighted
in its unexpected accidents. "When I tried to leave Piraeus
for Crete by a Greek boat and was actually on board, a terrific
snowstorm occurred, the worst known at Athens for fifty
years, and the steamer stayed in port. ... I decided to spend
a few more days in Athens, and to fly to Crete by the sea-
plane. Incidentally this gave me an opportunity of stirring them
up like bees at Athens by sending to the paper that Venizclos
reads, a full account of the bad treatment that I and other
travellers had experienced both on landing at Piraeus and on
attempting to depart from it, at the hands of the 'Pirates of
Piraeus' the boatmen and porters. . . ."
Age had not brought softening of Sir Arthur's sharp temper
and sharper wit. In Crete I was told a story about him which
may well be true, though I had no means of checking it. Im-
mediately after one of his arrivals in Crete, he was driving
through Herakleion when he noticed to his indignation that
workmen were demolishing one of the finest Venetian houses in
the town. Ordering his chauffeur to stop, Sir Arthur stormed
out, waving Prodger, and began belaboring the workmen, com-
manding them to stop immediately, and demanding to see the
Mayor. When that official appeared, Evans told him, in the
strongest terms, that the building was a national monument of
which the Cretans should be proud, and that to demolish it was
an act of vandalism unworthy of a civilized people. The demoli-
I cannot vouch for the facts of this anecdote, but it was
told me in good faith, and I see no reason to disbelieve it.
In his eightieth year he could still find energy to excavate.
"Here I am with the Pendleburys and de Jong," he wrote,
"starting some trial excavations which have already led to
surprising results including where I looked for it! a large
built tomb. Probably it has been entirely robbed however/'
In 1932 he returned, after an absence of half a century, to
his beloved Croatia and Dalmatia. He saw again the Casa
San Lazzaro the house to which he had taken Margaret
after their marriage and even found, in the neglected garden,
"THE OLD TRADITIONS WERE TRUE" 177
flowers which they had planted. Visiting the jail in which he
had been imprisoned, he remarked to the custodian, "I come
here every fifty years."
As the friends and colleagues of a lifetime died, one by
one, the old scholar began to feel the loneliness and isolation
which is the penalty of all those who long survive their own
generation. There is a grave, dignified sadness in the Intro-
duction to the fourth and last volume of his great book, in
which he salutes his departed friends and fellow-scholars.
After his tribute to Duncan Mackenzie, already quoted, he goes
Apart from this sad stroke . . . the passage of the years itself
has lately taken an untimely toll- even while this present Volume was
in hand of those whom I could most look to for encouragement and
advice. . . . Already, when this Volume was well advanced, A. H.
Sayce was suddenly taken from us. ... Much travelled scholar and
first hand student of the monuments of Egypt and the East ... it
had been owing to his interpretative genius that the first real light
was thrown on the Hittite problem, and the revelations of Minoan
Crete nearly concerned him. . . . With him, too, H. R. Hall, most
learned and serviceable guide, beyond the Aegean shores to Egypt
and the Ancient East, has gone before his time. Gone too, in the full-
ness of his years, is Friedrich von Buhn, the revered German "old
master." . . *
His warmest tribute was reserved for his old friend, Pro-
fessor Frederico Halbherr, the Italian archaeologist who "was
first in the field, the Patriarch of Cretan excavation," and who,
through his seasoned knowledge of local conditions, had helped
Evans to make his preliminary exploration of the island in times
of difficulty and danger, and paved the way for the excavations
His smile, his kindly manners won all hearts, and his memory still
lives among the Cretan villagers. The "net" under which he slept se-
cure at night, and his coal-black Arab steed that climbed rocks "like a
wild goat" and on which be could gallop over the Turkish road
from Phaestos to Candia in little over five hours, have become almost
legendary. . . .
178 THE BULL OF MINOS
The Introduction reads like a roll call of the dead, and
one wonders if Evans realized, as he recorded the deaths
of his fellow-scholars, that he was also recording the end of
an epoch. Leisurely scholarship supported by private wealth,
the disinterested pursuit of knowledge for its own sake, amicable
relationships between scholars of varied nationalities the liberal
intellectual atmosphere in which he had been reared as a child,
which he accepted like the air he breathed, and had defended
in his wartime speeches did he recognize that these precious
things were soon to be swamped by a new fanatic intolerance
worse than any he had known in the First World War?
He did not survive the Second World War, though he lived
through the first two bitter years the fall of France, the invasion
of Greece and Crete, the occupation of Yugoslavia, all lands
which Evans knew and loved. In London, in 1941, he visited the
British Museum burned and blasted by enemy attack. He called
at the offices of the Hellenic Society to inquire about its members
who had been left in Greece and Crete. One member at least,
John Pendlebury, Curator of Knossos, the young scholar whom
Evans had admired not only for his scholarship but for the touch
of knight-errantry in his make-up, had died gallantly fighting
alongside the Cretan Resistance.
His health had begun to fail two years before, and now he
spent most of his time in his study at Youlbury, though he
still came sometimes to the Ashmolean Museum. On his ninetieth
birthday, shortly after having undergone a serious operation, he
received in his library at Youlbury a deputation of his friends
who brought him a beautiful scroll from the President and
Council of the Hellenic Society, recalling ". . . with gratitude
and admiration his exceptional contributions to learning,'* and
". . . his lifelong and strenuous devotion to the cause of
freedom in thought and in action."
"On his knees," wrote Sir John Myres, 'lay a well-used
Ordnance map showing his Roman road [Evans had traced
it on his estate at Youlbury and had become interested in this
fragment of local antiquity]; ... in reply to a question he
showed the fair copy of his account of it, and said brightly
It is finished; it will go to Oxoniensia.' It was his last contri-
bution to learning. Three days later he was dead."
"THE OLD TRADITIONS WERE TRUE" 179
Life, it has often been observed, always falls short of Art.
If this had been a novel, Evans would not have lived to hear
the hum of bombers over Europe's ancient cities; to know
that the Villa Ariadne was a German military headquarters;
that his beloved Balkan countries were once again a battle-
ground of the Great Powers; and that civilized standards of
conduct which used to be observed, even between nations at
war, had been abandoned in a brutal struggle for survival.
Instead, he would have died in 1939, after his last, triumphal
visit to Crete to receive, at Herakleion, the highest honors
the Cretans could bestow upon him. It is at that moment that
I prefer to think of him, eighty-eight years of age, replying to
the address of welcome in words which epitomize the story
I have tried to tell, however inadequately and incompletely, in
We know now that the old traditions were true. We have before
our eyes a wondrous spectacle the resurgence, namely, of a civiliza-
tion twice as old as that of Hellas. It is true that on the old Palace
site what we see are only the ruins of ruins, but the whole is still
inspired with Minos's spirit of order and organization, and the free and
natural art of the great architect Daedalus. The spectacle indeed, that
we have here before us is assuredly of world-wide significance. Com-
pared with it how small is any individual contribution! So far indeed,
as the explorer may have attained success, it has been as the humble
instrument, inspired and guided by a greater Power.
OVER an hour and a half ago the agonized, ague-shaken old
bus had ground its way out of the Cathedral Square in He-
rakleion, en route for the south coast of Crete. At every halt on
the long, gear-whining climb into the mountains we had taken on
board such a weight of human, animal and vegetable freight,
that I calculated while contemplating the unfenced precipices
within a few feet of our wheels that we must be carrying more
than twice the load that our ancient Ford had been built to carry.
Now we were climbing slowly and laboriously over the high
mountain chain which is the spine of Crete. Right left, left
right, swung the bus, and every turn in the road only led to an-
other. At the highest point I estimated that we were at some five
thousand feet above sea level, probably higher, but the mountains
still rose above us, some capped with snow like sugar icing. At
points the road clung to the edge of the mountain, while enor-
mous boulders seemed poised, ready to fall upon us from the
upper slopes; the dust rose behind us, and on the rutted, rocky
road, our wheels danced on the rough surface.
Suddenly the long agony of the engine was over. It stopped
screaming and gratefully accepted top gear; as we began to
bowl down the other side of the pass, I heard the rumble of
the tires again.
We had broken through the mountain chain and were com-
ing smoothly down into a lovely fertile plain in which were more
olive trees than I had seen in the whole of Crete; from above they
seemed almost a forest. The sunlight slanted down over the
mountains, making the green of the fields glow like emerald;
and against this brilliant green of spring grass the old powdery-
grey olives stood in ranks, with occasional bands and patches of
reddish earth which had been newly ploughed. Away to the right
rose a snow-covered peak which seemed unbelievably high and
remote Mount Ida itself. And ahead of us smiled the sea, the
southern sea beyond which, only two hundred miles away, lay
the north coast of Africa.
It was evening as we moved quietly down into the rich
Plain of Messara, most fertile region in Crete. Here had been
found the tombs of some of the earliest peoples to settle in
the island; here also, on its knoll overlooking the plain, near the
harbor where once the Minoan galleys had moored, stood the
Palace of Phaestos, the southern rival of Knossos. It was at
Phaestos that I had arranged to spend the night.
I was relieved when at last the bus stopped near a small
Byzantine church. The driver, after courteously carrying out
my bag and absurd typewriter, waved his arm towards a hill on
the left of the road. "Phaestos," he said with a smile.
"Efcharisto!" I replied, delighted to have remembered
enough of my Greek phrase book to thank these charming
people. The dusty old vehicle moved off round the bend, past
a dismantled German gun emplacement, and I began to climb
the path which wound up the slope through the olive trees.
Near the top of the hill I was met by Alexandros Venetikos
(Alexander the Venetian), a small, lithe, dark man who, with
his sister, is responsible for the rest house at Phaestos. But I had
come so early in the year, he said long before the students and
the tourists usually arrived. However, I was welcome, and
though they had only candles and oil lamps, and could only offer
me eggs, a little bacon and a glass of wine still, I would have
a comfortable bed, and the Palace to myself. As I followed
Alexandros into the rest house, the first faint stars were beginning
to tremble in the night sky.
At supper round the candlelit table, the light wavered on
the dark faces of the caretaker, his sister in her red head scarf,
and a tall mountaineer friend, who, with his broad shoulders
and slim waist, looked as if he were lineally descended from
the Cup-bearer himself. We talked of local beliefs. They told
me that in some parts of Crete it is believed that, up to the
time of its christening, a child is surrounded by evil spirits.
So, after a birth, all the relatives and friends meet in the house,
making merry as noisily as possible so as to drown the child's
cries, and thus prevent them being heard by evil ones. This may
have its origin in the legend of Zeus, entrusted by his mother to
the Corybantes, who drowned his cries by the noise of cymbals
and drums to prevent his being devoured by his father,
Cronos. . . .
It is certain that respect for the old gods is still strong
among some modern Cretans. I was reminded of a true story
told me by an English friend living in Crete. One day she asked
a Cretan bus driver, "Why don't you make the buses run to
time?" He replied that it was impossible. "But in England we
do it," she told him. "If only you would make a little extra effort,
the service could be perfect."
"Perfect?" he asked, aghast. "Perfection is for the gods. We
are but men. . . ."
After supper I left my hosts and walked out into the moon-
light, and down the slope to the Palace of Phaestos, spread out
at my feet (see Plate 46). Phaestos is far more magnificently
sited than Knossos. It stands on a high knoll proudly command-
ing the Messara Plain, with the hills lying well back at a respect-
ful distance on each side. All the familiar Minoan features are
there the maze of rooms, the broad sweeping stairways, the
storerooms or magazines with their great pithoi. But in contrast
to Knossos the site was in some ways simpler to excavate and
preserve, so that Halbherr, unlike Evans, had only to do the
minimum of restoration.
The full moon threw a magical light over the noble flights
of stone steps; the long, shadowed corridors; the doorways of
gleaming white stone. The place seemed compounded of moon-
light, like a fairy palace which would disappear when dawn
came. The gentle radiance softened the contours of the broken
walls, and gave to the majestic ruin a strange, dreamlike quality,
making it possible to imagine the walls at their original height,
to replace the great bronze and silver doors, and to people the
shadows with Minoans.
I found myself in a room with walls of shining white gypsum,
which seems to have been an audience chamber. The original
stone benches remained on two sides, and in the center were
bases from which lofty columns had once sprung (see Plate 45).
To right and left, doorways rose to their original height. Sitting
on one of the stone seats, one could recreate the Palace. Beyond
that doorway, if I passed through it, might I not find Phaestos
just as it was with the gay frescoes restored, the walls and
ceilings in place; would I hear, perhaps, the hum of voices, gay
feminine laughter and gossip, the footsteps of some important
court official hurrying along the corridor, the solemn chanting of
priests celebrating the sacred rites of the Mother Goddess?
I sat silent, looking at the full moon high in the clear sky,
and hearing only the sound of frogs croaking in the valley,
and the little night sounds the flutter of a startled bird, and
the fluting of an owl. ... I looked to my left and there, serene
and splendid, high over all, rode the long, snow-covered ridge
of Mount Ida, sacred to Zeus.
Back in the rest house I sat up in bed, an oil lamp drawn
close to the bedside, my books and notes scattered on the
coverlet, trying to assemble in my mind all that had happened
since I had stepped over the threshold of "La Belle Hel&ne de
Menelaiis" at Mycenae; not very long ago, yet how distant it
seemed now! There, too, I had been welcomed by friendly
people; there, too, I had lain awake, impatient to begin the ex-
ploration of Schliemann's Mycenae the first stage in my long
journey into prehistory. Now that journey was nearly over. I had
followed Ariadne's thread through the Labyrinth. Where had it
led me? Are we now in the full daylight of knowledge concerning
the ancient Aegean civilization which began in Crete, then
spread to other islands and the mainland, from whence, perhaps,
came its destroyers? And where does Homer fit in? And what of
old Dr. Schliemann and his theories? Are they now quite dis-
credited? I flicked through the pages of my diary. Somehow
these questions must be answered, and the results of the journey
To change the metaphor, having followed the river of
Aegean civilization upstream nearly to its source, it was time
to turn the boat round and glide rapidly downstream again,
noting the chief landmarks. So, in the few remaining pages, I
will try to sum up what is currently accepted by Aegean archae-
ologists, bearing in mind that opinions vary, and that older
theories are constantly being modified, or even abandoned
altogether, as new knowledge is gained. The following outline
of the course of Minoan civilization is based mainly on that
of the late John Pendlebury, to whose book, The Archaeology
of Crete, I am deeply indebted.
It is believed that the ancestors of the Minoans came to
Crete roughly between 4000 and 3000 B.C, Their original home
seems to have been in southwest Anatolia and Syria at least,
says Pendlebury, their nearest cultural connections were with
the people of those areas. They were at the Neolithic stage of
development, i.e., they used fairly highly developed stone im-
plements and weapons, and they were a seafaring people. Their
settlements occur in small groups, each one reached from some
point on the coast. These people were at first mainly cave
dwellers, though later they built elementary shelters.
But although the Neolithic settlers were probably Asiatic,
Sir Arthur Evans believed that "the determining cause of this
brilliant development of early civilization is ... traceable to
the opening out of communications with the Nile Valley across
the Libyan Sea." There is no doubt that there was contact with
the Lower Nile and with Libya from extremely early times. The
late Professor Percy Newberry, addressing the British Association
in 1923, pointed out that at the very beginning of the historic
period in Lower Egypt, the cult objects of the people of the
Western Delta (nearest to Crete) "included (1) the Harpoon,
(2) the Figure of Eight Shield with crossed arrows, (3) the
Mountain and probably, (4) the Double Axe and, (5) a Dove
or Swallow. With the exception of the Harpoon all these cult
objects are also found in Crete." And even the Harpoon may have
been later modified into the familiar Minoan Trident, which
appears on the walls of Knossos and Phaestos.
There may even have been a landing by small bands of
Lower Egyptian refugees after the conquest of Lower Egypt
by Menes, in 3200 B.C. It is an interesting fact that the capital of
the Western Delta of the Nile, in pre-Dynastic times (before
3200 B.C.), was Sais, whose goddess, Neith, had as her emblem
the figure-eight shield. The people of the Western Delta were
known to be closely connected with Libya in fact the Egyptian
language was unknown to the inhabitants.
Now this Libyan connection gives us some most significant
clues to the possible cultural origins of the Cretans. For one
of the features of Libyan male dress in this remote time as
shown in statuettes was the "Libyan Sheath," which, like the
codpiece of medieval times, protected the genitals. The Minoans
wore the same sheath. The Libyan men wore their hair with a
side lock falling down from in front of the ear over the breast
or through the armpit. So did the Minoan men (see the illustra-
tions of the Cup-bearer, Plate 23, and the Priest King, Plate 38).
There are other curious examples; for instance, in the very early
"tholos" tombs discovered in the Messara not far from Phaestos
the excavators found "idols or human figurines entirely di-
vergent in class from the old Neolithic class but identical with
those found in prehistoric tombs at Naquada [in Egypt]/'
So we have two main elements in Neolithic Crete; an original
stock from western Asia, constantly reinforced by other peoples
from the same area; and a quickening influence from the Nile
Valley, either through trade or through the immigration of a
small number of refugees from the Western Delta, driven out
when the Kings of Upper Egypt conquered the whole country
at the beginning of the third millennium B.C. They may have
taught the original settlers new arts e.g., fine lapidary work
and the manufacture of faience for which the Delta was fa-
During the thousand years which archaeologists call for
convenience the Early Minoan Period (circa 2800-1800 B.C.),
the population of the island increased rapidly. Important towns
grew up on the coast, at Palaikastro, Pseira, Mokhlos and
Gournia. The most prosperous settlements were in the east,
though in the south the Messara Plain became well populated.
With the concentration of population in towns and villages, a
class of professional craftsmen arose; art, especially that of the
potter, flourished. Life became easier; communications were
improved. Foreign relations especially with Asia, Egypt and
Libya became closer. But in metalwork the Minoans were still
backward. Sculpture was in its infancy and the seal stones were
of poor design and quality.
The island was at this time divided into three groups,
central, southern and eastern, which appear to have been inde-
pendent of each other. There were no palaces.
The Middle Minoan Period (circa 1800-1600 B.C.) 2 is
1 Evans suggests that Minoan agriculture may have benefited by contacts
with Egypt. "The beans found in the store-rooms at Knossos were at once
recognized by our workmen as identical with those imported from Egypt."
"The dates for these periods (which in any case are only approximate)
differ from those given by Pendlebury in his excellent The Archaeology of
Crete, as modern scholars tend to place them somewhat later than he did
twenty years ago. I am indebted to Dr. Frank Stubbings of Cambridge for the
marked by "two most important changes; the rise of the Palaces,
and, allowing for a local difference due to natural difficulties of
communication, unity of culture [Pendlebury].* During these
two brilliant centuries the three main divisions of the country
began to coalesce. The population began to spread west of Ida.
Crete may still have been divided into many states, but Knossos
appears to have gained chief political power; Phaestos may have
remained independent. Building methods became so similar that
it is clear that the Minoan culture was now a unity. Bronze was
introduced, making it possible to cut fine ashlar masonry. Gyp-
sum was used as a facing stone; buildings show evidence of
detailed planning to this period belongs the introduction of the
marvellous architectural features, the "light wells" and the
elaborate drainage system. Fresco painting reached a dazzling
level of achievement. The potter's wheel came in. A wonderful
school of vase painting developed (see Plate 24). So did minia-
ture sculpture and the art of making faience ( glazed clay ) . Gem
engraving kept pace with progress in the other arts. "In Middle
Minoan III," says Pendlebury, "the seal-stones reach the highest
point of beauty/*
Overseas trade had made the Minoans rich. Undisturbed
by war, protected from the envy of their neighbors by the sea
of which they were masters, they were acquiring a commercial
empire. They may not have deliberately planned the conquest
of other Aegean islands. Their Empire probably grew like the
British Empire. First they would get permission from a local
prince to establish a trading post; perhaps build a port. Then,
later, the prince might ask them for help against a neighbor
which would be given, at a price.
So gradually, and probably peacefully, most of the country comes
under the control of newcomers. Finally comes the stage when further
acquisitions become necessary owing to the need of putting down
piracy or rather of ensuring against other seafarers poaching on their
Such was the origin of the sea empire of Minos, traditions
of which survived until classical times, and were taken seriously
even by historians such as Thucydides.
By the beginning of the Late Minoan Period (circa 1550-
1100 B.C.) ^rete was a world power, co-equal with Egypt and
the Hittite Empire. These were the days when the proud am-
bassadors of the Keftiu are shown on the walls of the Egyptian
tombs, not offering tribute as members of a subject state, but
bearing gifts from one great monarch to another.
By 1550 B.C., there were fine roads linking the Minoan cities,
protected by guard stations. By now Knossos had become the
center of a highly centralized bureaucratic system; from his
mighty Palace the King of Crete ruled over many overseas do-
minions. Hence the size and complexity of the Palace. It was
not merely a king's residence; it was a center of administration.
It was the seat of a government which controlled not merely the
neighboring regions or even the island, but a maritime empire. . . .
We may fairly surmise that there existed a well-developed system of
administrative machinery which needed considerable room for its of-
fices. The rich tributes which the Kings derived from their depend-
encies were stored in the Palaces. 3
The other great Palace of Phaestos, in the south, may have be-
longed to princes of the Knossian family line.
Round each of these and other smaller palaces clustered
handsome towns with well-built houses of stone for the solid
burgher class, and smaller homes for the numerous artisans.
The mountains were not bare, as they are today, but clothed
with magnificent forests, supplying the great cypress beams
needed for the columns, architraves and timber framing of the
Then, at the very height of this glory, in about 1400 B.C.,
came violent destruction, ruin and death. Knossos, Phaestos,
Hagia Triadha, Gournia, Moklilos, Mallia and Zakros all show
traces of violent destruction, accompanied by burning. What
had brought about this disaster? Pendlebury, as we have seen,
believed it was due to an invasion from the mainland, of which
the story of Theseus and his companions is the legendary symbol
Evans believed it was due to one of the terrible earthquakes
which had brought previous destruction to the Minoan cities,
* Bury, History of Greece.
though perhaps, in this case, followed either by foreign invasion
or local insurrection. *
Pendlebury's theory has much to support it. He points out
that on each of the sites mentioned above there is evidence of
destruction by fire, and that in ancient times earthquakes did
not necessarily cause fire, as they do in modern towns with
gas and electricity mains. But if foreign invaders destroyed the
chief cities of Crete fourteen hundred years before Christ, who
were they, and why are they believed to have come from the
To find the answer we shall have to go back six hundred
more years and look at the mainland of Greece as it was in
2000 B.C. when Crete had already attained a high degree of
civilization. In Greece (not then called by that name), as in
Crete and some of the Aegean islands, there was a Bronze
Age population which had entered the country a thousand
years earlier. They belonged to the dark-haired "Mediterranean"
race and may have been akin to the inhabitants of Crete and
the Cyclades. Their language, like that of the Cretans, is lost,
but they have left us memorials of their presence in certain place
names which do not belong to the Greek language. These are
mainly names ending in "-os" and "-nth," of which there are
many in Greece and, significantly, even more in Crete. For
instance, Corinth, Ilissos, llalicarnassos, Tylissos these names
of Greek towns and rivers are not Greek; they have been left
behind by the population which lived there before the ancestors
of the modern Greeks entered the country. Other names were of
flowers, plants and birds with which the invading Greeks were
not familiar such names as hyacinth and narcissus which have
passed into our own language. In Crete there were scores of such
old non-Greek place names of which Knossos itself is the most
Most significantly, the very name for "sea" thalassa the
sea by which the Greeks lived, is not Greek. Scholars suggest this
is another indication that the people which invaded what is now
Greece round about 2000 B.C. came from the north from the
interior of Europe where the sea was unknown. Therefore, on
arriving on the shores of the Mediterranean, they would naturally
borrow the name used by the people whom they had conquered.
These conquerors for whose presence there is positive archaeo-
logical evideftce after circa 2000 B.C. are believed by scholars
to have been the ancestors of Homer's "bronze-clad Achaeans."
And it was these men, a warrior race from a harder, northern
climate, who became overlords of the Mediterranean peoples and
set up their mighty citadels at Mycenae, Tiryns and elsewhere.
Inevitably these people, who may have been organized in a
loose federation of states, with Mycenae at the head, came into
contact with the great Minoan Empire to the south and so pro-
duced the fusion of mainland and Cretan culture which we call
Mycenaean. Authorities differ fundamentally in their interpreta-
tion of Minoan-Mycenaean relations. Evans believed that the
Minoans colonized Mycenae, and Pendlebury agreed with him.
"So Minoanized does the rest of the Aegean become," he wrote,
"that it is impossible for the present writer at least to avoid the
conclusion that it was dominated politically by Crete. . . ."
But Professor Wace, who probably knows more about
Mycenae than anybody else, does not accept this view. He
believes that the mainland rulers remained politically inde-
pendent, but were attracted by the higher civilization of Crete.
They imitated it in their architecture, dress and art, and may, in
fact, have employed Minoan artists to work for them on the
mainland. Those who hold Wace's belief point out that though
the style of the objects found in the shaft graves, e.g., the en-
graved dagger sheaths, is unmistakably Minoan, the subject
matter hunting and fighting is not. Such subjects would have
more appeal to a northern warrior race, and the impression left
by "Mycenaean" art is that of Minoan craftsmen working to the
orders of a foreign master. Notice also the decidedly non-Minoan
faces on the Mycenaean death mask ( Plate 12 ) . 4
Whatever may have been the cause, it is certain that, after
the fall of Knossos, the mainland cities, and especially Mycenae,
rose to the peak of their power and wealth. Pendlebury believed
that the Achaeans or "Mycenaeans" attacked and destroyed
the Cretan cities as a political move probably because they
wished to smash the Cretan monopoly of trade and obtain a
share of the rich traffic with Egypt. They do not seem to have
occupied and colonized Crete, since, after 1400 B.C., Minoan cul-
4 For further information on this point see Appendices.
ture still continues, though in a minor key, in the smaller Cretan
communities. The Palaces, with their ruling class and hive of
civil servants, seem to have been destroyed, but at a lower level
Cretan civilization continued until it was absorbed into the com-
mon culture of the Aegean.
The scene now shifts to Greece, which from 1400 to 1200
was wealthier and probably more united than it was to be again
for five hundred years. Throughout the period Mycenae was
dominant; it was then that the Mycenaean princes enlarged their
Citadel, built the Lion Gate and hollowed out of the hillsides
some of the earlier "beehive" tombs described in Chapter Five.
The shaft graves were, of course, much earlier ( 1650-1550 B.C. ) .
In his lofty castle, dominating the community, the King enter-
tained his guests with banqueting and minstrelsy, as Homer
describes. The Mycenaean nobles loved hunting and chariot
racing. Their women, like the Minoans before them, wore tight-
waisted jackets, with open bosoms, huge flounced skirts, elabo-
rate coiffures and lots of jewellery. It was a splendid age, this
heroic period to which Homer looked back during the Dark Age
which followed the collapse of the Achaean Empire.
But before that happened the Achaeans, having defeated
the Kings of Crete, broke through to the rich East, founding set-
dements at Rhodes, Cos, and Cyprus; trading with Egypt; ex-
changing the products of the Aegean for luxuries such as gold,
ivory and textiles. An interesting point is that there have been
discovered at Boghaz Keui, the ancient capital of the Hittite
kings, in Asia Minor, clay documents referring to the King of
Akhfyava which nearly all scholars now accept as the first docu-
mentary reference to the Achaeans the word which Homer used
most often to describe the Greeks.
Then, in the thirteenth century B.C., Egypt adds her testi-
mony. In 1221 B.C., an invading host moved down on Egypt, led
by the King of Libya, but most of the invaders came from the
north. Among them the Egyptian inscriptions mention the "Achai-
washa" probably another reference to the Achaeans or "My-
cenaeans." The invasion was unsuccessful, but a generation later
a second great wave came down from the north, including a
mighty host of the "sea peoples." This was the coalition defeated
by Harnesses III in a land and sea battle, and among them the
Egyptian inscriptions mention "Damma" who may have been
the Danaoi. It was an age of unrest and vast migrations of peo-
ple; the last attempt, especially, seems to have been far more
than the advance of professional armies, but of whole tribes,
moving down the coast of Syria and Palestine with their women,
children and baggage wagons, "The Isles," wrote the Pharaoh's
priestly chronicler, "were in tumult."
Probably the last desperate venture of the Mycenaean Em-
pire, or coalition of states, was the siege of Troy, which history,
legend and archaeology all agree was fought during the first
quarter of the twelfth century. This again seems to have been a
political stroke, perhaps to break the Trojan stranglehold on the
Black Sea trade. But by this time the Achaeans were facing peril
at home. The final chapter in this ancient drama, revealed by the
spade but living more richly on the lips of poets tells of the
destruction of the destroyers. For the Achaeans, who had broken
the power of Knossos and inherited the wealth of the old Minoan
Empire, were themselves overthrown in the twelfth and eleventh
centuries by yet another wave of northern immigrants of the
same Greek-speaking stock. These were the Dorians the an-
cestors of the "classical" Greeks and those of today. They broke
up the highly organized Mycenaean state into small cantons.
Centuries later, when the old Mycenaean cities lay in ruin
and the Minoan Empire was forgotten, a Greek poet of genius
produced, from a number of much earlier epics, the Iliad and
the Odyssey. These earlier poems, which glorified the deeds of
the heroes of the Mycenaean Age, had been transmitted orally
from generation to generation, and although they were modified
and altered to suit prevailing Dorian fashions, they still preserved
the names of the Mycenaean cities, Mycenaean leaders and their
deeds, and details of Mycenaean social customs.
They may even contain unconscious memories of Cretan
glories, transferred to fairyland by a generation which could not
imagine that they had once existed. Consider Homer's description
of the mythical "Isle of Phaeacia," where Odysseus is washed
ashore after his shipwreck Of her country the King's daughter,
* , . there is no man on earth, nor ever will be, who would dare set
hostile feet on Phaeacian soil. The gods are too fond of us for that.
Remote in this sea-beaten home of ours, we are the outposts of man-
kind. . . .
Could there be a better description of Crete in the days of her
glory? And in a later passage occur the lines:
For the Phaeacians have no use for the bow and quiver, but spend
their energy on masts and oars and on the graceful craft they love to
sail across the foam-flecked seas.
Alcinous, King of Phaeacia, tells his guest:
But the things in which we take perennial delight are the feast,
the lyre, the dance, clean linen in plenty, a hot bath and our beds. So
forward now, my champion dancers, and show us your steps, so that
when he gets home our guest may be able to tell his friends how far
we leave all other folk behind in seamanship, in speed of foot, in
dancing and in song.
May not this be a folk memory of the luxurious life of the
Knossian Palace? For in Homer's own time, at least five hundred
years after the fall of the Cretan power, nothing remained in
Crete itself to tell the newcomers that the island had once been
the center of a mighty Empire. The curious Dorians found, in the
crumbling ruins of Knossos, a few fragments of the bull frescoes,
with youths and maidens, and these may have helped in the de-
velopment of the legend of Minos and the Athenian captives, and
of Theseus and the Minotaur, As for the Labyrinth, this is simply
derived from the labnjs another non-Greek word, meaning the
double axe, the most familiar symbol on the walls of Knossos.
As for the mysterious underground maze in which Minos kept
the bull-monster, this story may have been brought back to
Greece by venturesome Dorians who found their way into the
great sewers of the Palace drainage system which were big
enough to accommodate a man and were, of course, quite un-
known in their own primitive communities.
So, thanks to Evans and his fellow-scholars, building on the
foundations which Schliemann and Dorpfeld laid, we can survey
a vast new territory of prehistoric life in Europe. The old legends
and myths have been proved to contain more truth than the
dry-as-dust historians would admit. For this knowledge we have
to thank first Schliemann, who trusted the ancient traditions,
and had the means and the will to justify his faith. But for pa-
tient, scientific investigation, analysis and synthesis, we owe our
debt to Evans and the line of devoted scholars who have suc-
Homer now appears as more than a weaver of dreams and
fairy tales. He wrote in a period of cultural twilight. He had not
seen the walls of Ilium, or watched Agamemnon ride through
Mycenae's Lion Gate, or sat in the frescoed hall of King Minos
at Knossos; but his antecedents had seen these wonders. So it
happens that in the poems there are preserved, like flies in amber,
descriptions of noble rooms, works of art, arms and armor, and
a way of life which had vanished in Homer's own day, but which
the spade of the archaeologist has now proved to have existed.
Ours also is a twilight age, especially for humane studies.
The Schliemanns and the Evanses, men who had the leisure and
the wealth to preserve knowledge for its own sake, are dead;
their successors, working with far more limited resources, are
doing fine work; for example, Professor Wace's book, Mycenae,
marks another step forward in our understanding of the My-
cenaeans. But how much more remains to be learnedl The mys-
terious Minoan writing, which Evans went to Crete in the hope
of deciphering, remains still a mystery; 5 and in Crete, in spite
of the work of scholars and archaeologists from Britain, France,
America, Italy and elsewhere, more remains beneath the soil
than has yet been taken out of it. The valley in which the Palace
of Minos stands, could, if excavated, perhaps yield tombs and
treasures equal to Egypt 's "Valley of the Tombs of the Kings."
But how is such work to be done today? Where is the man of
wealth who is also a man of genius who could finance, let
alone plan, such work? What Government would dare to ask
for a vote of 250,000 for excavating and rebuilding a three-
thousand-year-old palace? One is left sadly wondering how many
years must pass before the world is settled, and civilized, enough
to carry on the great work which Schliemann and Evans began.
* Since the first edition of this book was published, the "Linear B" script
has been portly deciphered. See Appendix "B."
The morning sun, shining through uncurtained windows,
woke me early. I breakfasted on the terrace, with the Palace
spread out a few hundred feet below me in the sun, which made
the white walls shine like snow, and patterned the courtyards,
corridors, and broad-sweeping stairways with ink-black shadows.
Mount Ida, with its icy-white crest, rode high and serene in the
innocent blue of morning. Ahead, beyond the flat-topped hill
on which the Palace stood, the rich, green Plain of Messara ex-
panded till it met the enclosing hills.
These hurried, fleeting visits, I reflected, stirring my coffee,
are also part of the pattern of our time. Fifty years ago nay, less
than that young men of modest means could spend months in
such rewarding places, planning a career, a book, or a university
thesis; or perhaps dare we say it just enjoying themselves?
Today such experiences can be enjoyed only by three "privileged
classes" the rapidly dwindling minority of tourists who can
afford to pay their passage, the even smaller minority who travel
on university grants and, very occasionally, fortunate journalists,
who "snatch a fearful joy," conscious all the time of the return
airline ticket in their pocket and the impatient editor waiting at
home. . . .
Natonalist passions, suspicion, intolerance, the propaganda
lie all the evils which Evans fought have come near to destroy-
ing the world he knew. Yet in our Age of Anxiety we must make
the best of what chances we have. For a short time the grip of
unreason has relaxed a little just sufficiently to allow a few
people to enjoy the stimulus of travel and friendly intercourse
between nations, which used to be considered the mark of civili-
I walked down the slope from the rest house, and slowly
mounted the broad, magnificent stairway as noble as that of
Versailles which leads to the entrance of this four-thousand-
year-old Palace (see Plate 43). I passed through the long cor-
ridors, past the innumerable doorways and flights of steps which
once led to higher apartments. I crossed the broad Central Court-
yard, on, on, up further stairways and along further corridors
until I arrived at the furthermost limit of the Palace the point
at which the knoll on which it stands falls away in a sheer cliff
to the fertile Plain of Messara below.
Suddenly, from far below, piercing the morning air, came a
thin, high trumpet note. A herald announcing the arrival of an
Embassy from Egypt? No just a shepherd's horn.
To right and left rose the low, gentle hills, partly shadowed
in the morning sun; the hills in which were found the **tholos"
tombs of some of the earliest peoples to land and settle in Crete.
Ahead lay the Messara itself, a lush green patterned with ranks
of powder-grey olives, each throwing a long morning shadow
across the damp grass. Among the old grey stones of the Palace,
pink asphodel sprang, its many-clustered flowers standing quite
still in the warm, windless air. There were red and blue wild
anemones and, at my feet, painting the green plain with bright
gold, sweep upon sweep of the tiny yellow oxalis.
Spring . . . spring had come to Crete from the south, across
Homer's wine-dark sea, which had been the path of the first
Cretan settlers five or six thousand years ago. In a day and a half
I would be walking the rain-washed pavements of cold, windy
London. But I had seen the arrival of Persephone on
**. . . this sea-beaten home of ours,
. . . the outpost of mankind. . /'
whence came the Spring of Europe.
MYCENAE'S SECOND GLORY
AT the end of the first edition of this book, published in the
autumn of 1953, I mentioned some remarkable discoveries made
at Mycenae in the spring of 1952, more important than any made
on that site since Schliemann discovered the shaft graves in 1876.
At the end of the brief Appendix describing some of the treasures
brought to light in 1952, I wrote, "By the time these words ap-
pear in print, no doubt other graves of the newly discovered Cir-
cle will have been excavated, perhaps revealing treasures equal-
ling or exceeding in wonder those which Schliemann found three
quarters of a century ago."
These words have been proved abundantly true, as have the
concluding lines of the book, which read, "Another chapter will
have been added to our story; a story which can never end, for
if the Schliemanns and the Evanses have had their triumphs,
who can say that the last secrets have been revealed, and that
archaeologists of the future may not achieve even greater vic-
tories over the forces of Time and Decay?"
In Chapter Five I have described my visit to Mycenae,
which I approached along the narrow winding road which leads
from the village of Charvati to the Citadel. Little did I know that
at one point I had walked over the grave of a Mycenaean prin-
cess, nor that within a few yards of the roadside lay a Grave Cir-
cle containing more than sixteen graves of Mycenaean royalty
of the Middle Bronze Age. A few months after I left, Dr. John
Papadimitriou of the Greek Archaeological Service made this
marvellous discovery, and during the past two years treasures
have come to light almost equalling in splendor and historical
significance those which the German excavator found.
During the same period British archaeologists, working
under Professor Wace, have been active, excavating in the Prehis-
APPENDIX "A" 197
toric Cemetery just outside the Lion Gate, and uncovering the
ruins of Mycenaean houses outside the walls of the Citadel, re-
vealing objects which have thrown new light on the Mycenaean
Age and confirmed its close connection with the world described
Even more remarkable, though less spectacular, is the partial
decipherment, in 1952, of the Minoan/Mycenaean "Linear B"
script which Evans first discovered at Knossos, and which has
baffled scholars for more than fifty years. Chief credit for this
achievement goes to an English architect, the late Michael Ven-
tris, though American and European scholars had been working
on similar lines and helped him in his researches.
The two discoveries are closely linked, because tablets and
objects have been discovered in Greece inscribed with the same
form of writing which Evans found on the Knossian tablets,
proving that the Mycenaeans used the same system of writing
as was used in Crete during the latter part of the Late Minoan-
Period (1400-1100 B.C.). Recently Professor Blegen, of the Uni-
versity of Cincinnati, found many scores of inscribed tablets at
Pylos, and Wace has discovered similar tablets and inscribed
jars at Mycenae. Moreover, it now appears fairly certain that the
language was an early form of Greek, thus supporting the theory
of Wace and others that during its latter stages the Minoan
civilization at Knossos was strongly influenced by the mainland
and that, in fact, Knossos may have been conquered by the _M)fc
cenaeans. Wace has also stated that the recently excavate3 graves
in die Prehistoric Cemetery show continuity of culture, and that
there was not a complete archaeological break in the culture of
Mycenae at the end of the Bronze Age. This, he suggests, tends
to disprove the hitherto-accepted belief that the Dorian Invasion
brought in a Dark Age. However, not all scholars accept this
view, some asserting that though Mycenae continued to be oc-
cupied after the Dorian sack, the Mycenaean culture was cer-
tainly disrupted. Epic poetry was the main medium through
which its memory was kept alive.
Certainly Aegean archaeology is entering upon a new and
exciting phase, in which some earlier theories may have to be
In this Appendix, therefore, I shall describe some of the
198 APPENDIX "A'
recent finds at Mycenae. In that which follows, Ventris's work
on the "Linear B" script will be discussed, after which I shall try
to relate the two, and endeavor to indicate how these extraor-
dinary developments are likely to influence our view of the
Aegean civilization which was first brought to light by Schlie-
mann and Evans.
In 1952 Wace and his British staff began further explorations
of the Prehistoric Cemetery just outside the Lion Gate. In Chap-
ter Five I mentioned that "Professor Wace has shown that the
prehistoric cemetery of which the shaft graves form part orig-
inally extended beyond the line of the Cyclopean walls, west of
the Lion Gate."
He found, in 1952, a number of graves of the Middle Bronze
Age, with characteristic burials of the period. These, apparently,
were not royal graves, and they had been plundered in antiquity,
though interesting objects had survived. He also found what
may have been discarded loot from a "tholos" tomb of the Late
Helladic Period. Among these was a remarkable group of ivories,
some of which were in the form of our old friend, the "figure-of-
eight" shield ( see page 51 ) . These seem to have been models of
the great body shield mentioned by Homer. Other ivories seem
to have formed part of the mountings of wooden furniture. For
example, there was one with a tenon at the base for the insertion
of a socket, which may have formed part of a bedstead or chair,
though Wace suggests that it may have been the head of a
herald's staff analogous to the caduceus which is usually borne
Another ivory showed a griffin in low relief, masterfully
carved (remember the griffins on the walls of the Throne Room
at Knossos). There was also the handle of a silver cup of the
same type as the famous golden cups of Vapheio (see Plates 34
and 35); the barrel of the handle and the upper and lower
plates were inlaid with gold and niello.
More interesting was a small hoard of bronzes found near
the spring Perseia. They seem to have been the stock in trade of
some worker in bronze. Wace found tools, including chisels, a
drill and a hammer, a double axe, an adze, a dagger and several
curved knives. These were of the Mycenaean period.
It should be remembered that not all the Mycenaeans lived
within the walls of the Citadel. On the slopes below were many
APPENDIX "A" 199
hotfces, and it was in the ruins of these houses that Wace made
his most remarkable discoveries. In one of these, which seems
to have belonged to an oil merchant, was a storeroom with large
jars (pithoi) ranged along the wall as described by Odysseus in
the Odyssey. But the significant fact was that this house had been
burned and the stirrup jars had been deliberately broken or un-
stoppered to add fuel to the flames.
The two basement rooms of the same house contained thirty-
eight clay tablets inscribed with "Linear B," like the script dis-
covered by Evans at Knossos. These, except for surface finds
made in 1950, were the first to be found anywhere in a purely
private house. Like those found at Knossos and at Pylos (by
Blegen), they seem to have been merely accounts and inven-
tories. Since their discovery they have been partially deciphered
by Ventris. On one of these tablets was a sketch of a man in a
short kilt, standing to attention. Perhaps this was an artist's draft
for a wall fresco, as at Knossos. We know that the Mycenaeans
were in the habit of adorning their plastered walls with frescoes
of men and women, chariots and hunting scenes.
In 1953, Wace continued work at Mycenae. To the north
and south of the House of the Oil Merchant he discovered two
more houses dating from the thirteenth century B.C. This time
he found even more magnificent ivoiy carvings.
Such a wealth of Mycenaean work in ivory has probably never
been found before. Certainly nothing which could be compared with
this has been found for at least sixty years.
On the north side of the House of the Oil Merchant the
excavators examined a house which stands on a platform held up
by massive walls. Two rooms were revealed, the western one con-
taining ivory carvings which appear to have been used mainly
as inlays and decoration for wooden caskets, beds, chairs and
other furniture. Here again, the spade of the archaeologist has
confirmed what Homer wrote, for he mentions ivory as an adorn-
ment of furniture, harness, swords and keys. More model figure-
of-eight shields were found in ivory, also ivory lids, and the head
of a Mycenaean warrior wearing the Boars' Tusk Helmet men-
tioned by Homer (see page 52).
Wace called this the "House of Shields/' and named the
200 APPENDIX "A"
other, southern house the "House of Sphinxes," from a sftiall
ivory plaque of couchant sphinxes which it contained. These are
rather like the lions shown on the Lion Gate. "The anatomy of
the legs and bodies is delicately drawn," he writes. They wear
lily-crowns' and their hair streams out behind."
Much was also learned about the construction of Mycenaean
houses. They had wooden thresholds to the doorways, as de-
scribed by Homer, and the basements recalled the basements
in the palaces of Priam and Menelaiis described by the poet. It
is now very clear that Homer preserved many of the features of
what we call Mycenaean civilization, even though he wrote
during the transitional age between iron and bronze.
But perhaps the most important discovery made by Wace in
1952 and 1953 was that of a number of inscribed clay tablets,
clay seals and seal impressions. Some of these were found in the
"House of Shields." Other specimens of Mycenaean writing were
found in the "House of Sphinxes." In a doorway leading to the
storeroom were seven clay seals from the same signet, and on the
back of each seal was an incised inscription in the "Linear B"
script, all different.
The important fact [writes Wace], is that we have now clear
evidence of writing in each of the three houses in this row of large
private houses. This confirms beyond all doubt that reading and writ-
ing were generally known to citizens of Mycenae and that their use
was not confined to kings and officers, the priesthood and tax-gathers.
Further excavations in the Prehistoric Cemetery revealed
continuity of culture between the end of the Bronze Age the
latest phase of Mycenaean civilization and the beginning of the
Iron Age to which Homer belonged.
One of the graves belongs to the latest phase of Mycenaen civili-
zation at the close of the Bronze Age and dates from the twelfth cen-
tury B.C. In it two characteristic vases were found, a small jug and a
bowl typical of the so-called Granary style. Next in date is a grave
(sunk in the ruins of the House of Shields) of the opening of the Iron
Age, with proto-Geometric pottery. The two vases, a large amphora
with concentric circles and a small, duck-like vase and simple linear
ornament, carry on the tradition. . , .
APPENDIX "A" 201
graves were found which also "carried on the tradi-
tion." The objects found in them vases, iron daggers, bronze
pins, etc., would have little appeal to the layman compared with
the riches found in the Royal Grave Circle, which will be de-
scribed later, and yet they have greater significance historically.
For, as the excavator says:
This series of graves is valuable because they give us the se-
quence of style and show that there was no archaeological break in the
culture of Mycenae at the end of the Bronze Age. . . . The effects
of the Dorian Invasion have been unduly magnified by historians. The
archaeological facts suggest that there was no definite racial or cul-
tural break, but only a political revolution. 1 The citadel of Mycenae
was burned at the end of the Bronze Age, but there was no real inter-
ruption in its civilization.
The work of Wace and his colleagues has not brought to
light anything so spectacular and romantic as the discovery of the
new Grave Circle, but their patient digging has added much to
our knowledge of the Mycenaean civilization and its close rela-
tionship with the heroic world of the Iliad and the Odyssey.
Homeric architecture, Homeric arms and objects have been
found. It has been established that the Mycenaeans had a system
of writing which was known outside palace and official circles.
It is also clear that, in the thirteenth century B.C., Mycenae en-
joyed peace, since otherwise how could the wealthy merchants
have built their houses outside the wall? But many puzzles re-
main unsolved, some of which will be discussed at the end of
That second-century travel writer, Pausanias, whose obser-
vations were not accepted literally by nineteenth-century schol-
ars, is gaining increased respect as excavation at Mycenae con-
tinues to confirm his accuracy. The first to vindicate him was, of
course, Schliemann, who, as I described in Chapter Four, ac-
cepted the truth of his statement that:
1 It is only fair to state at this point that a number of scholars disagree
with this conclusion of Professor Wace, and assert that there was a break in
202 APPENDIX "A"
In the ruins of Mycenae . . . there is a tomb of Atreus . . l^and
there are also tombs of those whom Aegisthos murdered on their re-
turn from Troy. . . . Clytemnestra and Aegisthos were buried a little
outside the wall, for they were not deemed worthy of burial within it,
where Agamemnon lies and those who were murdered with him.
Schliemann dug within the walls of the Citadel and found
the six shaft graves. In 1951, seventy-five years after Schliemann,
Dr. J. Papadimitriou of the Greek Archaeological Service dis-
covered the second Grave Circle, which Pausanias describes as
being outside the wall. He found it by accident when repairing
the so-called "Tomb of Clytemnestra."
The newly discovered Grave Circle lies 130-140 yards west
of the Lion Gate, partly under the road which runs between the
Citadel and the village of Charvati. Dr. Papadimitriou believes
that the graves were known in the time of Pausanias (127 A.D.)
because gravesones, or stelai, similar to those found above Schlie-
mann's shaft graves, were found "at a very small depth from the
surface soil of the area in the days of Pausanias, which level has
definitely been determined by the latest excavations." How-
ever, it still remains a mystery why, if the graves were known
at that time, they were not robbed.
There is a difference beween the new Grave Circle and
Schliemann's. Both have roughly the same diameter, about 27
meters (29& yards) but the enclosing wall of the "new" Circle
is much thicker, 1.55 meters (5 feet 1 inch) and is built of large,
roughly hewn blocks of limestone. Chronologically it belongs to
the same period as the graves it encloses, whereas the wall sur-
rounding the Circle within the Citadel was built two hundred
years after the burials, of slabs of poros stone. This was because
Schliemann's graves originally lay outside the wall of the Citadel.
When this was extended, and the graves came within the Citadel,
a new encircling wall was built around them. Perhaps originally
they were enclosed by the same kind of limestone wall which
surrounds the newly discovered Circle.
By April, 1954, sixteen graves had been excavated, and
some yielded treasures almost equal to those found by Schlie-
mann. Over two of them were found funerary stelai which bear,
in Dr. Papadimitriou's words, ". . . beautiful representations of
bull-hunting and lion-hunting scenes. On another grave . . , was
APPENDIX "A" 203
fotflfc in situ the base containing a fragment of a funerary stele.
This gave us a chance to examine again the method followed in
the setting the stelai which were discovered by Schliemann and
transported without their bases to the National Museum in
Athens. As a result we found in the Grave Circle in the Citadel
some blocks belonging to the bases of stelai which have remained
unknown to this date. This detail alone is capable of showing
the significance of the new graves whose excavation, as it is
carried out today with our new scientific methods, and the
experience and knowledge obtained since the days of Schlie-
mann from the excavation work and writings of international
scholars, will yield most important conclusions relative to the
construction of the graves and the burial customs of that remote
Dr. Papadimitriou has called the graves after the initials
of the Greek alphabet, to distinguish them from those of Schlie-
mann, who gave them Latin numerals. The richest is Grave
Omicron, the excavation of which required considerable care.
At this site the wall of the grave circle had been completely de-
stroyed by the modern road and the whole grave was completely un-
der the asphalt. The aqueduct of the village crossed the grave, and
in the centre of the grave a cement tank of the aqueduct had been
built. However only the top of the grave was injured and the rest
unknown and had not been robbed.
It was necessary to divert the road and the aqueduct and
remove the tank, extremely fatiguing work, but the excavators
were richly rewarded. For the grave seems to have been that
of a Mycenaean princess, a young woman whose body was
found lying in an extended position. On the north side of the
grave, near three clay vases, was a rock-crystal bowl carved
in the shape of a duck, ". . . having the head with the neck
gracefully bent as the handle of the bowl and its tail as the lip.
No similar work of art has been found in the Greek mainland
or in Crete. Only in Egypt and in Asia Minor can we find
perhaps similar precious vases. It is amazing how the artist
obtained this unusually large piece of crystal [15 centimeters
The skeleton of the princess had originally been richly
204 APPENDIX "A"
clothed, and though the fabric had, of course, perishe<^Nhe
gold and silver ornaments, clasps, necklaces, diadems, etc., had
remained. On each shoulder was a bronze pin with a crystal
head, presumably intended to hold a heavy robe; and another
pin, of silver, with a gold head, was found near the right
shoulder. Three necklaces lay on the breast, two made of
various precious stones such as amethysts and carnelians, the
other of amber beads. On one wrist was found a beautiful gold
bracelet made of repeated spiral circles, and the princess had
worn golden ear clips of a strangely modern appearance. Near
her head lay two large diadems of gold, with an ivory plate
which may have been used to hold them in position.
In another sepulcher, Grave Xi, was found the skeleton of
a little girl of not more than two years of age. It was almost
in the center of the grave and adorned with beautiful miniature
jewellery which appeared, says Papadimitriou, "... in situ
as they would have Iain on the body of this unlucky child, and
made a charming impression." A diadem of double gold leaves
joined by a gold bandlet lay on the head, and there were two
gold rings near the temples to hold the tresses together. A
tiny necklace of small precious stones lay near the center, and
there was even a baby's rattle of gold. . . .
Grave Delta contained three bodies, near one of which lay
two bronze swords and other bronze weapons and clay vaseg.
One sword had an ivory pommel with delicate carving spiral
decorations and four sculptured heads, two of bulls and two
The body of a warrior, a tall man nearly six feet in height,
lay in the Gamma Grave, placed with the legs apart and with
the hands forward near the pelvis. It is not clear why this
position was adopted (the excavators found other bodies in
the same position), but it may be that the body was placed
leaning against pillows, with the hands on the hips. Near this
skeleton lay two long bronze swords with ivory pommels, a
fine bronze dagger, a bronze lance and other weapons. An-
other body wore a golden collar, and near the west side of the
grave were gold ornaments and a gold cup. Bronze and ala-
baster cups were also found.
Papadimitriou discovered that the male and female bodies
APPENDIX "*" 205
buried in separate graves, and that only the graves of the
men contained gold and silver cups. In the Iota Grave there
were two male skeletons, one of which was equipped with a
bronze sword and an ivory pommel, a bronze knife with a
handle of rock crystal and a bronze lance. In many of the graves
fine cups and vases were found, some of clay with painted
decoration, some of stone and others of alabaster. One, discov-
ered early in the excavations, contained bronze and silver vases,
two gold cups, gold head ornaments and a face mask of electrum
(gold and silver alloy). Once again, Homer's "Mycenae, rich in
gold" has lived up to its reputation.
The method of burial was similar to that used in Schlie-
mann's shaft graves. The graves vary in depth, but they are
all of the shaft type. As the grave was dug, a narrow ledge was
left at a certain height from the bottom. The bodies were laid
on a floor of pebbles, with their funerary gifts. Then wooden
beams were laid from ledge to ledge and thus formed a ceiling
for the grave. On top of these were laid canes, very close to-
gether, the whole being covered with a thick layer of greenish
clay, or sometimes with flagstones, to make the grave water-
proof. Then the earth was turned back, and, as there was more
earth than was needed to cover the grave, it was piled up in
the form of a small mound, on top of which the funerary stele
When it was desired to make another burial, the body of
the earlier occupant was shifted to one side to make room for
the newcomer. If there was still insufficient room, some of the
clay jars would be moved from the shaft and placed on top of
the ceiling, under the mound. No coffins were used.
Unfortunately, there is still no clue to the identity of the
people buried within these graves. Pausanias was told that
the bodies were those of Aegisthos and his companions, the
murderers of Agamemnon, who were not thought worthy of
burial within the Citadel. We know now that they date from
a* period several hundred years earlier than that in which
Agamemnon is supposed to have lived. They are, in fact, the
bodies of Mycenaean royalty who lived about 1650-1550 B.C.,
much older than the epoch of the Trojan War.
The simple people of Mycenae whom Pausanias met in
208 APPENDIX "A"
A.D. 127, when the famous city of Agamemnon lay in ruins, Wew
their ancient history only by legend and the Homeric poems, and
therefore had no sure conception of chronology such as we have
today. None the less they remembered the names of their
famous ancestors, the mighty warriors who made expeditions
to the Orient and brought back gold, silver, ivory and other
precious objects. The ivory almost certainly came from Syria,
since we know that elephants were hunted in the Orontes Valley
in 1500 B.C. Also the Mycenaeans clearly had close cultural con-
tacts with the island empire of Crete, which they may eventually
Dr. Papadimitriou has reached the conclusion that the
Grave Circles were not flat, but that a mound of earth was
raised over each grave. When the funeral ceremony was over
and the grave filled in, the relatives and friends of the deceased
held a funeral feast over the grave, as is proved by the quanti-
ties of animal bodies found in the earth covering each grave.
"This custom," the archaeologist points out, "is referred to in
Homer's Iliad, where, at the funeral of Patroclus, the Greeks
assembled near the body at a funeral banquet given by Achilles,
who killed animals, bulls, sheep and pigs, so that the blood
ran around the body."
One fact has continued to puzzle me, and I offer it to the
reader for his consideration. We now know that the Mycen-
aeans could write; clay tablets have been found in private
houses in Mycenae (admittedly some two or three centuries
later than the period of the Grave Circles), inscribed with the
form of writing known as "Linear B." Vases and jars were
also found inscribed with this script. Why, then, since the
Mycenaeans took the trouble to draw up inventories of their
goods and label their oil jars, did they not carve on the grave-
stones the names of their royal dead? The Egyptians covered
the walls of their tombs with written inscriptions; so did the
Phoenicians. The later Greeks and Romans also set up inscribed
gravestones. But not the Mycenaeans. Why?
I asked this question of several archaeologist friends, and
they admit that it is a puzzle. Dr. Frank Stubbings, Lecturer
in Classics at Cambridge, who has also dug at Mycenae with
Wace, wrote to me:
APPENDIX "A" 207
% wonder myself whether a lively oral tradition of history took
their place [i.e. the place of carved or written monumental-inscrip-
tions]. Such an oral tradition must be behind the Homeric epics; per-
haps epic itself had started even in Mycenaean times? Chadwick has
pointed out how well the Greek of the tablets seems to fit the hexa-
meter metre; and Homer preserves a number of words of this Myce-
naean Greek otherwise lost by classical times. The stelae over the
Shaft-Graves [both Schliemann's and Papadimitriou's] are earlier than
any "Linear B" yet known. [Knossos, circa 1400, is the earliest; Shaft-
Graves say 1650-1550 (?).] Linear A 2 in Crete is found as early as
the Shaft-Graves, but is unknown on the mainland. The Royal Tomb
at Isopata near Knossos, has an inscription that may or may not refer
to the burial it is short, and in Linear A, which is still undeciphered.
Later Mycenaean tombs sometimes had gravestones or markers, in one
case with painted pictures, but I know none inscribed. Were there
painted tomb-inscriptions? None are known, and on such a monu-
ment as the "Treasury of Atreus" [see Plate 1] with its carved fagade
[now in the British Museum], one would rather expect such inscrip-
tions (if they ever existed) to be carved on the stone too, In Homer
there is talk of raising barrows, or even a stone) to mark the site of a
tomb, but apparently only as a landmark to be identified orally, I
Since the experts can give no definite answer, may I put
forward two possible answers to this question? Neither has
any firm historical or archaeological backing, and is offered
only as a theory. The first was suggested to me by Ancient
The Egyptians had a system of writing before 3000 B.C., yet
we do not find anything approaching a literature until a thou-
sand years later. Egyptian writing was invented for a purely
utilitarian purpose. It was a working tool, a means by which
a man could communicate with others without having to meet
and talk with them; a means of keeping accounts and records.
Later the Egyptians, like all civilized and articulate people,
discovered that words have a magic of their own, and there
then arose writers of stories and romances who used language
8 Evans discovered two forms of writing at Knossos, "Linear A," the earli-
est, and "Linear B," a later form which also appears on the mainland. It is this
form which has been partially deciphered by Ventris (see Appendix 4< B").
< . 9 9
208 APPENDIX "A
for no other purpose than to give pleasure. Thus the
developed into an art.
It is probable that the Mycenaeans adopted writing for the
same practical purpose, as a means of keeping records and
accounts a purely mechanical device in which the aristocracy
would not be interested; a useful tool for merchants, trades-
men, clerks and suchlike, but beneath the dignity of kings and
It seems certain that the epic poems upon which Homer
based his Iliad and Odyssey were originally recited Homer
mentions bards, but not writers. It appears to me more than
probable that the Mycenaean princes, sitting in their halls of
state after a banquet, liked to hear the deeds of their ancestors
sung or recited in epic verse, but that no one would think of
committing these poems to writing, because there was no need
to do so. The bards had prodigious memories. Writing was
for the "rude mechanicals."
If this theory is valid, then it is unlikely that any written
literature of the Mycenaean period will ever be found, and
that future generations will still have to rely, as we do, on the
poems of Homer for any impression of how the Mycenaeans
thought and felt.
But there remains the question: "Why did not the Mycen-
aeans at least record the names and achievements of their kings
in their tombs, as did the peoples of other ancient civiliza-
tions?" This brings me to my alternative theory, that the
anonymity of Mycenaean royalty may have been due to a reli-
Anthropologists tell us that among primitive tribes to this
day taboos exist which forbid the mention of a chief's name.
The same reluctance occurs in Ancient Egypt. The Pharaoh
was rarely referred to by his actual name. He was called "One"
or "the Ruler" or his identity was disguised under such names
as "the Bull" or "the Hawk." In The Story of Sinuhe the writer
describes the death of Amenemhat as follows:
In the year 30, on the ninth day of the third month of the Inun-
dation, the god entered his horizon.
APPENDIX "A" 209
r, admittedly, he says, "King Amenemhat flew away
to heaven," and names his successor, Sesostris, but immediately
afterwards he refers to the young Prince as "the Hawk" who
"flew away with his henchmen/'
However, The Story of Sinuhe is a sophisticated work
dating from the Twelfth Dynasty, in the middle period of
Egyptian history, more than a thousand years after civilization
began in the Nile Valley. Perhaps in much earlier times the
name of the king could not be spoken, just as members of
primitive African tribes today are forbidden to mention the
name of their chief. This religious taboo may be due to the
fact that names have a magical significance to primitive people.
The name was a part of the man, and just as in Siam, two hundred
years ago, anyone touching the king's body was punished by
death, so no common man was permitted to speak the sacred
If this prohibition applied to the Mycenaeans, it would ex-
plain why the names of their kings were never inscribed on their
tombs, and why the walls of Mycenaean and Minoan Palaces,
though adorned with frescoes depicting human beings, are void
of written texts.
On the whole, however, I think it is more likely that the
absence of tomb inscriptions, written histories and written
poems was due to the fact that, at the time of which we are
speaking from about 1500 to 1100 B.C. writing was a purely
utilitarian device, and that Mycenaean poet-historians memo-
rized their poems and transmitted them orally from generation
THE "EVEREST" OF GREEK
IN Chapter Ten I described Sir Arthur Evans's discovery at
Knossos of "whole deposits, entire or fragmentary, of clay
tablets analogous to the Babylonian but with inscriptions in the
prehistoric script of Crete. I must have about seven hundred
pieces by now. It is extremely satisfactory," he wrote, "as it is
what I came to Crete to find. . . ."
It was what he had come to find, but although he and other
scholars wrestled for more than thirty years with the decipher-
ment of the mysterious writing, they were able only to estab-
lish that the tablets represented inventories; that there was a
numerical system; and that some of the objects listed in the
inventories could be identified as chariots, horses, men and
women from the "pictographs" which appeared at the end of
certain lines. All attempts to ascertain the grammatical basis
of the language if it had one failed.
But while this book was being written, the script or rather
one form of it was at last yielding its secrets, and now, more
than fifty years after Evans discovered the "Linear B" tablets,
they can be partially read. Moreover, it seems fairly certain
that the language in which they were written was an early
form of Greek.
In the first volume of his Scripta Minoa Evans showed that
there were three stages of writing in Crete. First there were
hieroglyphs, represented on the early engraved seal stones. Then
came a more cursive form of writing, which he called "Linear A."
Finally came a third script, a modified form of the "Linear A"
which Evans called "Linear B." This was the commonest
form, and it was in use at the time of the destruction of Knossos.
The same form of writing has been found at places on the main-
APPENDIX "B" 211
land, such as Mycenae and Pylos. It is this "Linear B"' script
which has been partially deciphered, largely through the efforts
of the late Michael Ventris. Ventris was not an archaeologist, nor
even a professional philologist. He was, in fact, an architect.
In 1935, the British School at Athens was celebrating its
fiftieth anniversary with an exhibition at Burlington House,
London. Among the speakers was Sir Arthur Evans, then in his
eighty-fourth year. And among the audience was a thirteen-year-
old schoolboy studying classics at Stowe. The boy Michael
Ventris heard Sir Arthur say that the tablets he had discovered
thirty-five years before still challenged decipherment. Ventris
was intrigued, and decided to make the subject his hobby.
From that day on, he began to struggle with the problem, but
it was to take him seventeen years to solve.
Why did the writing take so long to decipher? Largely be-
cause there was no bilingual clue such as that provided by the
Rosetta Stone, which set Egyptologists on the road to under-
standing the hieroglyphs. Champollion and other philologists
were able to decipher the writing of the Ancient Egyptians
because (a) there existed, on the Rosetta Stone, the same in-
scription written in both Ancient Egyptian and Greek, and
(b) because elements of the ancient language still survived in
the Coptic tongue. The Behistun Rock supplied the same kind
of bilingual clue for the cuneiform writing of Babylonia. No
such help was provided for those who tried to wrest the secret
of the Minoan script from the baked-clay tablets found in the
Palace of King Minos. The symbols bore no relation to any
known form of writing. In vain archaeologists sought for a
billingual clue such as a bill of lading written in Minoan and
Greek. But no such aid has appeared, even today. How, then,
has the feat been accomplished?
If no bilingual clue exists, there are other ways in which
one can attempt to decipher an unknown language. As Ventris
Since 1802, when Grotefend first correctly read part of the Old
Persian syllabary, the basic techniques necessary to a successful de-
cipherment have been tested and developed on many other initially
unreadable scripts. Each operation needs to be planned in three
_,_. 9 9
212 APPENDIX **B
phases; an exhaustive analysis of the signs, words and contexts in all
the available inscriptions, designed to extract every possible clue as
to the spelling system, meaning and language structure; an experi-
mental substitution of phonetic values to give possible words and in-
flections in a known or postulated language; and a decisive check,
preferably with the aid of virgin material, to ensure that the apparent
results are not due to fantasy, coincidence or circular reasoning. 1
Let us consider the first phase of the operation: the "ex-
haustive analysis of the signs, words and contexts." If sufficient
material exists, one can begin to sort out and classify the words
and signs, to notice how many times the same group of signs
occurs, and how often and in what way a word beginning with
the same group of signs has varying endings. For instance, if
the reader was confronted with a book written in English,
without knowing the language or any related tongue, he might
notice that the words AND and THE occurred more often than any
others, and that sometimes one found a word beginning with
the signs G-R-OW which ended in different ways, e.g., GROW . . .
GROwing . . . GROwn. Looking further he might find another
word containing some, but not all, of the same signs, but which
used the same endings as in the first group of words, e.g. THROW
. . . THROwmg . . . THROwn. Then he might have a setback
on finding that whereas ROW and Rowing seemed to be governed
by the same grammatical rules, the third form of the word was
not Rown but Rowed. In this way, if he had enough material
and sufficient patience, skill and application, he might be able
to hazard a guess at the grammar, and then, by comparing it
with that of known languages, see if there was any possible
link. Did the thing work, or not?
This is only one example of the ways in which the script
might be attacked. Another would be to find out the total
number of symbols used. If, for example, there were only
twenty-four signs, as in Greek, the language would probably
be alphabetical, each sign representing a consonant or a vowel
(though some ancient languages, such as Egyptian, had no
signs for vowel sounds). On the other hand, if there were,
say, seventy or eighty signs, the language would probably be
syllabic, each symbol having the value of a consonant plus a
1 Antiquity, Vol. XXVII, December, 1953.
APPENDIX "B" 213
vowel, e.g., one sign for TA, another for TO, a third for TE, and
so on. A number of syllabic writing systems, e.g., Hittite and
Cypriote, have managed to make do with between sixty and
At the outset Ventris was handicapped by lack of material.
"When I started," he told me, "only 142 out of the 2,846 tablets
( and fragments of tablets ) found by Evans had been published.
The most useful work on the material was by Sundwall, a Finnish
scholar, who had access to more tablets than other people. But
we made slow progress/'
Then, in 1939, Professor Blegen, of the University of Cin-
cinnati, began to excavate at Pylos, in the Western Pelopon-
nese, the traditional home of Nestor, the aged counsellor of
the Greeks before Troy. He found a palatial Mycenaean building
in which lay some six hundred tablets in the "Linear B" script.
These tablets, published in 1951, showed that though the script
ceased in use at Knossos after the sack of 1400 B.C., it was still
in use two hundred years later on the mainland. Then, in 1952,
Sir John Myres, Evans's lifelong friend, published Scripta Minoa,
Volume Two, which Evans had left unfinished at his death. This
volume contained all the "Linear B" tablets found at Knossos,
and, with the Pylos tablets, provided Ventris with valuable new
By 1940 it was already generally recognized that the script
contained some seventy common signs for sound values, apart
from the "ideograms" the small pictorial signs which indicated
such objects as chariots, swords, horses, men and women. The
script was therefore clearly a "syllabary," like modern Japanese
and the Hittite heiroglyphs.
The Pylos tablets discovered by Blegen had been deposited
in the Bank of Athens, but Blegen had had them photographed,
and one of his students, Emmett L, Bennett Jr., studied the
tablets and helped to prepare them for publication. In 1947,
after his return from cryptographer service in the U.S. Forces,
he submitted a thesis on the tablets. He examined the shapes
of the signs in a more methodical way than Evans. In 1940
Ventris wrote an article in The American Journal of Archaeology
suggesting that the language might be like Etruscan, and that
the Etruscans may have spoken an Aegean language. Working
214 APPENDIX "B"
on this hypothesis, he tried to decipher the script, but his theory
was based on too small a part of the material, and came to
nothing. Meanwhile, between 1944 and 1950, the late Dr. Alice
Kober of Brooklyn suggested that by looking at the Knossian
tablets which had been published one could see that the script
had a certain grammatical pattern. She suggested also that by
studying the order of the words and how they changed, e.g.,
by noting inflections and word endings, one might get at the
grammar even without knowing the pronunciation.
Ventris, in the meantime, had joined the Royal Air Force
and become a navigator in Bomber Command. It is typical of
him that he chose to be a navigator rather than a pilot, because
the mathematical problems involved in navigating an aircraft
seemed to offer more interest than "being a driver." Then the
war ended and he was able to take up his hobby again, devoting
to it all the time he could spare from his profession of architect.
Up to 1950, it was generally assumed that the "Linear B"
script contained a non-Greek language, like "Linear A" (1700-
1450 B.C.). Evans thought that "Linear B" had been developed
from "Linear A" when the Knossos ruler centralized the govern-
ment of the island in his Palace, and overhauled its administrative
methods. It remained the same language, Evans believed, but
better written. But the young American scholar, Emmett L.
Bennett, thought differently. He made a close study of the two
scripts and, in 1950, published an article pointing out certain
vital differences. The signs looked the same, but the words were
different. To make this clearer, at the risk of oversimplification,
imagine a Martian studying two manuscripts, one in English,
the other in German, but both using the Latin alphabet. Not
knowing the languages, and seeing that the same signs were used
to write it, he might at first think that both manuscripts were
written in the same language. Only after careful study would he
discover that they were two different languages using the same
This vital discovery led to a new approach to the "Linear
B" script. "Linear A," the earlier form, was used in Crete
over many centuries. Then suddenly one finds an entirely
new system, though using the same signs, and this is used not
only in Crete at the end of the Late Minoan Period, but also
APPENDIX "B" 215
continues on the mainland for centuries afterwards. Wace and
other archaeologists believed that at this period mainland in-
fluence in Knossos was strong; that, in fact, the Mycenaeans,
who were of Greek stock, may have conquered Knossos.
Could the "Linear B" script have been an archaic form of Greek,
using the Minoan syllabary? This possibility had already occurred
to Ventris, and he corresponded with Bennett in order to test his
theory. He was on the brink of an important discovery.
Blegen's six hundred Pylos tablets, which had been pub-
lished in 1951, furnished him with new material, and there was
also Myres's Scripta Minoa, Volume Two, which came out
later. The latter volume, based on Evans's fifty-year-old material,
might possibly contain errors, so Emmett L. Bennett went out
to Herakleion in Crete to check up on the originals in the
Museum. The two young scholars kept in touch, and between
the spring of 1951 and 1952 Ventris worked away at the script,
testing and discarding theories, and every month taking a
particular line of inquiry. At regular intervals he would send
out copies of his investigations and conclusions, so that other
scholars could study and comment on them.
In May, 1952, Professor Blegen was back at Pylos, excavating
the Palace of Nestor. He explored the other end of the Archive
Room in which he had found the six hundred tablets in 1939. To
his delight another four hundred came to light, including the
missing halves of some already dug up in 1939. They were en-
trusted to Bennett to be prepared for publication, and the
contents of a few of them were made known to Ventris and
other scholars in early 1954.
A complete explanation of Ventris's methods is outside the
scope of this book, and readers who wish to study the subject
in greater detail should read the presentation of his theory
in die Documents in Mycenaean Greek which he and John
Chadwick, a Cambridge philologist, published in 1957. But,
briefly, he built up a huge dossier which showed, for example,
how many times a certain sign occurred, how many times it
occurred at the end of a word, how many times in the middle,
how many times at the beginning, etc. Then he and other scholars
began a long process of analysis and gradually began to recognize
the apparent grammatical structure of the ancient language, and
_ 9 9
216 APPENDIX "B
the relative frequence and interrelationships of the phonetic
signs with which it was written. Ventris wrote:
Once the values of a syllabary are known, its signs can be most
conveniently set out in the form of a chequerboard "grid" on which
the vertical columns each contain a single vowel, and the horizontal
lines a single consonant. A vital part of the analysis consisted in ar-
ranging the signs as far as possible in their correct pattern before any
phonetic values were tried out; this was made possible by clear evi-
dence that certain groups of signs shared the same vowel, (e.g. no ro
to), others the same consonant (e.g. wa we wi too).
There were also several pairs of spellings which alternated
in such a way as to suggest masculine and feminine forms of
the same word, and Dr. Kober had detected the presence of
During the fifteen months following Bennett's publication
of the Pylos tablets, Ventris was able to form some idea of the
grammatical structure of the "Linear B" language, and to fix the
relative positions of many of the signs on his "grid" (see
illustration on page 217).
"There now seemed to be," he wrote in his cautious
scholar's way, "sufficient material for a reasonably controlled
experiment in allotting phonetic values."
Thus, after years of preliminary research, classification and
analysis, he had reached the second phase of the operation:
"an experimental substitution of phonetic values to give pos-
sible words and inflections in a known or postulated language."
"Previous attempts at decipherment," wrote Ventris, "had
all relied, for fixing of key phonetic values, on supposed re-
semblances between 'Linear B' signs and those of the classical
Cypriote Syllabary, whose values are known."
What was this "Cypriote Syllabary"? Mr. R. D. Barnett,
Keeper of Western Asiatic Antiquities of the British Museum,
It has been thought for some time that the actual language of
Homeric times was probably nearest to the archaic dialects which still
survived in Classical times, isolated by later Dorian and Ionic inva-
sions and restricted to Cyprus and, on the mainland, to the mountain
218 APPENDIX "B"
district of Arcadia. This view is now likely to receive unhoped-for
confirmation. When the Dorian and Ionian invasions came at the be-
ginning of the Iron Age, the Mycenaean civilization collapsed and
with it all recollection of the arts of writing, except for the memory of
the tablet inscribed with "baleful signs" which Proitus gave to Bellero-
phon to carry to the King of Lycia, which was really a request to have
This theory that the "Linear B" script might be related
to the Cypriote Syllabary, though attractive, cannot yet be
proved. The syllabary shows few superficial resemblances to
either "Linear A" or "B," except in the shapes of some of the
elementary signs. "The differences," wrote Ventris, "might be
due to a reduction in size and a more 'cuneiform' writing
technique, but they make parallels between 'Linear B' and the
classical Cypriote Syllabary almost impossible to trace. It is
clear that the values of the 'Linear B* signs must be fixed on
internal evidence, and to satisfy the 'grid' and inflexions already
found, without taking into account any other doubtfully related
writing systems [my italics]/'
Ventris decided to "go it alone" and turned to the work of
Alice Kober, who had worked on the "Linear B" script during
the war, and who had recognized certain inflections. Among
the words which she had studied, there was a consistent series
which recurred in different contexts, in three different forms. Dr.
Kober called these words "paradigms" and Ventris, "triplets."
These, Ventris thought, were possibly the names of the chief
Cretan cities, together with their corresponding adjectives.
Now it is characteristic of most languages [he wrote], when sylla-
bically written, that the signs for the plain vowels A-E-I-O-U are ex-
ceptionally common in an initial position; and the first sign of the
first "triplet" suggested the value A to Kober and Ktistopoulos. The
decisive step was to identify the first words with Amnissos, and to
substitute values which would turn the others into Knossos, Tylissos,
Phaestos, and Lyktos:
A-mi-ni-so Ko-no-so Tu-ri-so Pa-i-to Ru-ki-to
A-mi-ni-si-jo Ko-no-si-jo Tu-ri-si-jo Pa-i-ti-jo Ru-ki-ti-jo
A-mi-ni-si-ja Ko-no-si-ja Tu-ri-$i-ja Pa-i-ti-ja Ru-ki-ti-ja
APPENDIX "B" 219
Since about 50 signs had already been assigned to their places on
the "grid" the substitutions in these five words automatically fixed most
of them as well, by a kind of chain reaction. If these names were an
illusion, then the resulting system of values must inevitably be a com-
pletely dislocated jumble, with which no further sense could be ex-
tracted from the texts by any sort of jugglery. 2
But they did not become a "dislocated jumble." When
Ventris began to apply the experimental phonetic values to the
pattern of declensions which he had already analyzed, he found
to his surprise that "these fell into line, not merely with the
known Greek system of declensions, but specifically with its
most archaic forms as deduced from Homeric and other dia-
Ventris was now at the third stage of the operation, a "deci-
sive check, preferably with the aid of virgin material, to ensure
that the apparent results are not due to fantasy, coincidence
or circular reasoning." At first, like Evans and other scholars,
he had assumed that the unknown language was Minoan, and
that it had no connection with Greek or any other known lan-
guage. But now, by attributing, experimentally, Greek values
to the signs, he began to realize that the language could be
read as an archaic form of Greek, and the similarities occurred
too often to be mere coincidences.
For example, here is one tablet from Pylos.
^ X Y
, Af f T,
' TV, 1 , 1 , 1 4'
If one attributes to the signs the values given them by
Ventris this could read, in Greek:
Hicreia echei-que, euchetoi-que etonion echeen theon, ktoinoo-
chons-de ktionaon kekeimenaon onata echeen. (Tossonde spermo;)
f Ventris: "Greek Records in the Minoan Script," Antiquity, Vol. XXVII,
< .. 9 9
220 APPENDIX "B
which in English would read:
This the priestess holds, and solemnly declares that the god has
the true ownership, but the plot-holders the enjoyment, of the plots in
which it is laid out. (So much seed) 3 5 %o units.
Another tablet, from the armory of Knossos, could read:
Hiquia, phoinikia harrarmostemena, araruia haniaphi; wirinios
"o-po-qo" keraiaphi opii(staP) iaphi, ou-que "pte-no"; CHARIOT 1.
which in English would read:
Horse-vehicle, painted red, with bodywork fitted, supplied with
reins; the rail(?) of wild-fig-wood with jointing of horn; and the pie-no
is missing; 1 CHARIOT.
In decipherment the real test is simple; does it make sense?
It appears to. For instance there is an inventory of swords,
recognizable from a pictogram which clearly illustrates this
weapon. It ends with a number and the "total" to-sa pa-ka-na
(so many swords). The classical Greek equivalent for this
would be tossa phasgana, which is good Greek and makes sense.
'There is another tablet with a pictogram representing chariot
wheels. The accompanying description, read with the values
Ventris ascribes to it, describes the wheels as kakodeta or
kakia "bound with bronze" or "brazen." The thing appears to
Most remarkable of all, two tablets from Knossos and one
from Pylos, deciphered by the Ventris system, carry the names
of Greek gods: "Lady Athena," Enyalios (an old name for
Ares), Pan, Poseidon, Zeus, Hera, and "The Lady."
John Chadwick, another British scholar who worked with
Ventris, points out that "it is certainly surprising to find names
which can be read as Hector and Achilles (but not Nestor or
Minos). . . ."
However, all the above examples were taken from the
earlier Evans and Blegen "digs." They did not fall into that
category of "virgin material" previously unknown, which Ventris
needed for his "decisive check." But in 1952 this was forthcoming.
A tablet was found at Pylos in that year which has almost the
APPENDIX "B" 221
effect of a bilingual. On it are drawings of tripods and vases.
Ventris, reading the signs which accompany the picture, gave
them the values ti-ri-po-de unmistakably the Greek word for
tripods. And the rest of the tablet is in the same strain, proving
the decipherment to be on the right lines. Other tablets yielded
similarly interesting results.
Ventris himself was very modest about his achievement. At
the end of his article in Antiquity he wrote cautiously:
There is some doubt whether the present "Linear B" material is
large enough for the decisive proof of a solution, but a substantial
check is promised by the still unpublished Pylos tablets found by
Blegen in 1952 and 1953. At all events, I do not anticipate serious
competition from any rival decipherment not out of conceit, but be-
cause of this unfair advantage; if the tablets are written in Greek, they
can hardly be explained otherwise than we have proposed; but if they
are not, their language is probably in the existing circumstances un-
R. D. Barnett, Keeper of Western Asiatic Antiquities at
the British Museum, writing about Ventris's achievement, hit on
the happy phrase "The Everest of Greek Archaeology"; for such
it truly is. To the layman, the disappointing fact is that now,
when the mysterious script seems to have been deciphered, all
that is revealed are, as Evans and others suspected, mere inven-
tories. It is as if some future excavator, searching for the clue
to the unknown English language, and having heard of a great
poet named Shakespeare, had found somebody's laundry bill.
But the important fact is that (assuming that Ventris was
right in his conclusions) scholars now have the key to the
Minoan-Mycenaean writing, should any more interesting inscrip-
tions turn up. It is amazing that a brillant and gifted people,
whose achievements are immortalized in the epic poems of
Homer which may indeed be based on oral poetry, handed
down from that remote age have left no written documents
apart from these inventories. Their contemporaries, the Egypt-
ians, have left us tomb inscriptions, historical annals, stories,
poems and letters. So have the people of the Euphrates Valley.
The Mycenaeans must have been in touch with these contem-
porary civilizations; objects found in their cities prove that. But
they have left us no written record of their history save what
222 APPENDIX "B"
survives in the poems of Homer, which were first set down in
writing many centuries after the last Achaean King ruled from
Homer mentions writing only once. There is a passage in the
Iliad, Book VI, in which Glaucus, the son of Hippolochus, chal-
lenges Diomedes "of the loud war-cry" to single combat. In one
of those long, discursive orations with which the Homeric heroes
address each other before proceeding to battle, Diomedes asks
if Glaucus is a man or a god in disguise, since, he says, "I am
not a man to fight against the gods of Heaven. . . . But if you
are one of us mortals who plough the earth for food, come on,
and you will meet your doom the sooner."
Glaucus, to reassure him, gives him a long piece of family
history. He is descended, he says, from the redoubtable Bellero-
phon, son of Glaucus and grandson of Sisyphus "as cunning a
rogue as ever there was." Bellerophon was subject to King
Proetus, a far more powerful nobleman than himself. Queen
Anteia, the wife of Proetus, fell in love with the handsome youth
"who was endowed with every manly grace, and begged him to
satisfy her passion in secret. But Bellerophon was a man of sound
principles, and refused/*
Whereupon, like Potiphar's wife, the Queen told her hus-
band that Bellerophon had tried to ravish her, and urged Proetus
to kill him, or be killed himself. Proetus dared not put Bellero-
phon to death, so he sent him to Lycia, and it is here that Homer
mentions writing for the first and only time:
... he packed him off to Lycia with sinister credentials from
himself. He gave him a folded tablet on which he had traced a number
of devices with a deadly meaning, and told him to hand them to his
father-in-law, the Lycian King, and thus ensure his own death.
The Lycian King gives Bellerophon a number of arduous and
dangerous tasks, hoping he will be killed, but each time the
young man triumphs, even when the King sets an ambush for him.
He picked the best men in all Lycia and stationed them in am-
bush. Not one of them came home. The incomparable Bellerophon
killed them all. In the end the King realized that he was a true son of
APPENDIX "B" 223
Now until recently this passage in the Iliad was regarded as
a later interpolation, but, says Stubbings:
There is no reason why it should not refer to Minoan or Myce-
naean script, and I think myself that it does. The writing materials are
not identifiable from what little is said. Little is yet known of Myce-
naean contacts with Lycia in Asia Minor, though I hope one day
[there] will be, even though we can hardly expect to find the actual
death-warrant for Bellerophon which Homer alludes to.
It is interesting to note, moreover, that Bellerophon belongs
to an earlier generation of heroes, to be dated definitely earlier
than the known examples of "Linear B."
So the torch is handed on; from Schliemann to Evans; from
Evans to Ventris and Papadimitriou; from Ventris and Papadi-
mitriou to whom? For, though a corner has been turned and
fresh vistas spring to view, the end is far from being in sight.
Much more work on the tablets will be needed; in fact the work
has only begun. And there still remains the "Linear A" script,
which may be truly Minoan and may baffle all attempts at de-
cipherment for years to come.
To conclude, let us take a forward look and consider the
problems and possibilities arising from these new discoveries. It
now appears very possible that people of Greek stock were domi-
nant at Knossos at the close of the Late Minoan Period. Professor
Wace has long believed that in Late Minoan II (1500-1400 B.C.)
Knossos was under mainland influence. His case grows stronger
with the evidence that Greek was written there at that time. In
a letter to Antiquittj published in March of this year he wrote:
For some time past several of us have been pointing out that in
L.M. II at Knossos (but not in the rest of Crete) there are features
which are maintained; beehive tombs, throne-rooms, the Palace Style,
alabastra, imitations of Ephyraean pots, and so on. Also the Knossian
frescoes, as Luisa Banti points out, agree with the mainland more than
with the rest of Crete. Now Knossos alone in Crete has the "Linear
B" script, and it is known on tablets at Pylos and Mycenae and on pots
from Thebes, Mycenae, Orchomenos, Tiryns and Eleusis. "Linear B"
is more spread on the mainland than in Crete. "Linear B" is Greek.
So at Knossos in L.M. II there were Greeks. The Mycenaeans were
224 APPENDIX "B"
Greeks; they were the Middle Helladic people developed after con-
tact with the Minoan civilization and the Near East in Late Helladic
I, or rather from just before the end of Middle Helladic through Late
Helladic I. Thus the decipherment of the tablets confirms the result
already arrived at archaeologically.
There is another aspect. The earliest known date for the
Phoenician alphabet as adapted by the Greeks is the eighth
century B.C. Historians used to believe that after the Dorian in-
vasion there was a Dark Age during which the Greeks were
illiterate. Now we know that the "Linear B" Mycenaean script
was in use down to the fall of Pylos, which presumably came
towards the end of the Bronze Age. Wace poses the question, "Is
it likely that such an inventive, intelligent and wide-awake peo-
ple as the Greeks would ever have stopped reading and writing
once they had learned to do so?"
Perhaps who knows the end of the "Linear B" script and
the beginning of the Phoenician Alphabet may have overlapped?
If only [writes Wace] we could find an inhabited site of the Late
Bronze to Early Bronze Age to Early Iron Age period we might find
tablets in it. All our knowledge at this period is from tombs. . . .
A tragic shadow has been thrown over these researches by
the death of Vcntris in an automobile accident in 1956. He was
only thirty -four when he died. But other hands have taken up the
torch. The crying need now is for more documents from Pylos,
Mycenae and other sites, and an Early Iron Age inhabited site,
in order to find out what the script and language situation was at
that time. The so-called Dark Age, thought Wace, is dark only to
We are on the eve of great developments. We can no longer speak
of pre-Hellenic Greece, because from 2,000 B.C. onwards the Greeks
were in Greece, and Mycenaean art is the first great manifestation of
Greek art. . . . One would like to see applied to the Dorian invasion
the same methods of study and the same archaeological technique as
have thrown so much light upon the arrival in Britain of the Anglo-
Saxons and upon our own origins: the two problems have much in
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Nilsson, M. P. The Minoan and Mycenaean Religion.
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Ovid. The Metamorphoses, translated by John Benson Rose, (Whit-
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Schliemann, H. Ilios City and County of the Trojans.
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Achilles, King of the Myrmidons, 8, Andromache, 72
10, 11-12, 13, 14, 16, 17, 31, Ankershagen, 22, 23, 29, 77, 81
53, 67, 206, 220
Antiquarians, Society of, 171
Antiquity, 212, 219, 221, 223
Aegean Sea, 62, 83, 89, 102, 118, Antoriiou, Gregorios, 160
Islands of, 19, 98, 138, 186, 188
Aegeum, Mount, 104
Aegeus, 105, 106
Aegisthos, 17, 18, 43, 45, 46, 54,
Aeneas, 14, 20
Aeschylus, 4, 18, 42, 43, 60
Aetos, Mount, 73
Aphrodite, 12, 14
Apollo, 13, 38
Apollodonis, 105, 106, 107
Archaeological Institute, 72
Archaeological Service, Director of,
Archaeological Society of Greece,
40, 46, 65, 196
Archaeology of Crete, 133, 145, 167,
Agamemnon, 4, 6, 7, 8, 11, 12, 13, Ares, 14, 220
16, 17, 18, 40, 42, 43, 44, 45,
46, 50, 51, 54, 55, 58, 59, 60,
61, 62, 64, 66, 71, 72, 78, 140,
193, 205, 206
Tomb of, 64, 202
Agamemnon, 18, 42
Air Board, 169-170
Akhiyava, King of, 190
Akhnaten, Pharoah, 128, 136
Alcinous, 165, 192
Alexander the Great, 31, 34
All Souls, Oxford, 87
Amenophis III, 136, 162
American Journal of Archaeology,
River of, 102
Amsterdam, 19, 23, 24
Argolis, Bay of, 61, 69
Argos, 10, 12, 18, 61, 69
Plain of, 5, 44, 61, 71
Vale of, 55
Ariadne, 98, 105, 106, 107, 183
Ashmole, Elias, 94, 98
Ashmolean Museum, 90, 94r-90, 100,
127, 146, 169, 178
Temple of, 4
Athens, 3, 4, 10, 28, 29, 38, 39, 72,
73, 77, 78, 80, 82, 89, 105, 113,
Acropolis, 6, 97
Archibishop of, 28
Museum at, 63, 64
Shoe Lane, 97
University Street, 73, 83
Atreus, 13, 42, 43, 44, 46, 202,
Atridae (sons of Atreus), 42, 44, 55,
Balfour, Frank, 85
Bali Dagh, 30, 31
Balliol, Oxford, 93
Banti, Luisa, 223
Barnett, R. D., 216, 221
Behistun Rock, 211
Bellerophon, 222, 223
Bennett, Emmett L., Jr., 213, 214,
Berkshire, 143, 173
Black Sea, 167, 191
Blegen, Professor, 76, 197, 199, 213,
215, 220, 221
Boghaz Keui, 190
Bosanquet, Carr, 134
Bounarbashi, 30, 31, 40, 75
Boyd, Miss, 126, 133, 134
Brasenose, Oxford, 85
Breasted, , 122
Briseis, 11, 16
British Association, 130, 172, 184
British Council, 160
British Museum, 25, 45, 92, 169-
British School of Archaeology,
Athens, 66, 82, 99, 108, 109,
112, 120, 131, 142, 175
Broadway Tower, Worcestershire,
Brown, Professor Baldwin, 148
Burnouf, Emile, 75
California, 26, 84
Candia. See Herakleion
Carter, Howard, 36, 49, 65
Casa San Lazzaro (Arthur Evans's
house in Ragusa), 91, 92, 176
Cassandra, 43, 54
Chadwick, John, 207, 215, 220
Charvati, 4, 60, 202
Chiltern hills, 143
Clytemnestra, 17, 18, 43, 45, 46, 50,
Cocalus, King, 107, 108
Ministry at, 40, 47
Coptic tongue, 211
Corinth, 12, 44, 59
Cotswold Hills, 85, 143
Cretan Archaeological Society, 121
Cretan Exploration Fund, 99, 119,
Crete, the Forerunner of Greece,
Cronos, 104, 120, 181
Curzon, Lord, 169
Cyclades, 79, 137, 188
Cyclopes, 9, 13, 43, 58
Cyllene, Mount, 11
Cypriote Syllabary, 216, 218
Cyprus, 122, 137, 138, 190
Daedalus the Smith, 105, 106, 107,
Dardanelles, 11, 27, 41, 74
da Vinci, Leonardo, 106
Dawkins, , 134
de Jong, Effie, 82-83, 89, 90, 103,
de Jong, Piet, 82, 89-90, 102, 103,
108, 109, 112, 155 ff., 173, 176
Demeter, 104, 120
Desptovitch, , 87
Dia, 102, 103
Dickinson, Harriet Ann, 84
Dickinson, John, 84, 144
Dictean Cave (birthplace of Zeus),
Diomedes, 12, 14, 52, 222
Documents in Mycenaean Greek,
Doll, Christian, 112, 143, 144, 159,
Dorian Invasion, 197
Dorpfeld, Professor, 32, 63, 64, 70,
71, 76, 77, 78, 97, 139, 192
general explanation, 135
pre-Dynastic Period, 135, 138, 184
First Dynasty, 135
Second Dynasty, 135
Third-Tenth Dynasty, 136
Eleventh-Thirteenth Dynasty, 136
Seventeenth Dynasty, 161
Eighteenth Dynasty, 66, 161
Earth, 104, 146, 153
Earth Mother, 121, 175
Earth-Shaker, 120, 153
Egyptian Empires, 114, 130, 136,
Egyptian Kingdoms, 135, 136, 139
Egyptian tombs, 62, 114, 115
Eileithyia, 82, 102, 103
Elgin, Lord, 45
Enneakrounos, fountain of, 97
Epic Cycle, 10, 43
Europa, 118, 121
Eurymedon, 43, 54
Evans, Sir Arthur, 57, 65, 70, 79, 81,
82, 83 ff., 91 ff., 103, 108, 109,
HOff., 120, 121, 122, 125 ff.,
131 ff., 141 ff., 169 ff., 174 ff.,
184, 185, 189, 192, 193, 194,
196, 197, 198, 199, 210, 211,
213, 214, 215, 219, 220, 221,
Evans, Dr. Joan, 84, 86, 87, 89, 116,
125 133 173
Evans, John, 84, 85, 119, 125, 144
Evans, Lewis (brother of Arthur),
Evans, Lewis (great grandfather of
Evans, Margaret (Mrs. Arthur), 89,
91, 93, 95, 97, 143, 176. See
Evans, Norman, 84, 86
Fortnum, Drury, 94, 95
Freeman [Edward Agustus], 88, 92,
Freeman, Lancelot, 143
Freeman, Margaret. See Evans, Mar-
French School, Athens, 75, 98
Fyfe, Theodore, 112, 116, 125, 143
Gabor, Bethlen, 94
Galton, Francis, 84
Gardner, Percy, 93
George, Prince, of Greece, 99
Gillieron, M., 127, 129, 155, 163,
Gladstone, 71, 72, 86, 87
Goebbels [Joseph], 6
Goering, Hermann, 6
Gournia, 126, 133, 134, 137, 185,
Grote, George, 9, 19, 67
Grotefend, , 211
Hades, 9, 11, 102, 120
Hadrian, Emperor, 29, 141-142, 155
Hagia Triadha, 126, 133, 187
Hagios Elias, Mount, 56, 61
Halbherr, Professor Frederico, 98,
121, 125, 126, 133, 134, 135,
144, 147, 177, 182
Hall, H. R., 177
"Harvester" vase, 133
Hawes, B. M. and H. W., 133, 134
Hazzidakis, Dr. Joseph, 121, 134
Hector, 8, 13 ff., 31, 53, 67, 72, 220
Helbig, Dr., 171
Helen of Troy, 5, 8, 12, 13, 17, 37,
38, 60, 78
Hellenic Society, 178
Hera, 102, 104, 120, 220
Herakleion (formerly Candia), 80,
89, 98, 99, 102, 103, 108, 110,
112, 125, 143, 176, 177, 179
Cathedral Square, 180
Museum, 127, 155, 215
Hesiod, 73, 104, 120
Hestia, 104, 120
Himmler, Heinrirh, 6
Hissarlik, 29, 30, 31, 40, 41, 76, 77,
History of Greece (Bury), 187
History of Greece (Grote), 9, 19
Hodge, , 72
Hogarth, D. G., 32, 99, 100, 120 ff,,
125 ff., 131 ff., 135, 144
Holmes (British Consul at Sara-
Homer, 4, 7, 8 ff., 21, 23, 26, 30, 31,
32, 34, 38, 40, 44, 51, 52, 60,
67, 68, 69, 73, 77, 78, 79, 82, 89,
90,93, 102, 103, 104, 111, 153,
163, 166, 183, 189, 190, 191,
192, 193, 195, 197, 198, 199,
200, 205, 206, 207, 208, 221,
Huxley, T. H., 85
Ibrahim Pasha, 41
Icarus, 106, 118
Ida, Mount (Crete), 98, 104, 180,
Cave of, 124
Ida, Mount (Greece), 19, 75
Iliad, 8ff., 30, 31, 38, 40, 51, 52,
53, 54, 67, 68, 75, 153, 162,
191, 201, 206, 208, 222, 223
llios, 20, 75, 76
lliou Melathron. See Palace of Ih'os
Ilium. See Troy
Isopata, 171, 207
Ithaca, 16, 27, 71, 73
Joubin, , 98
Jowett (Vice-Chancellor of Oxford
University), 92, 94, 95
Jukta, Mount, 99
Kairatos (river), 110, 126
Kalokairinos, Minos, 111
Katherina, 25, 26, 27
Keftiu, 114, 115, 138, 187
Kephala, mound of (at Knossos),
80, 101, 110, 112, 115, 117,
Kcramopoullos, , 65
Knossos, 61, 79, 80, 82, 99 ff., 108,
110 ff., 120, 122, 125 ff., 141 ff.,
155 ff., 169, 172, 173, 177, 181,
182, 184, 185, 186, 187, 188,
189, 191, 192, 193, 197, 198,
199, 207, 210, 213, 214, 215,
Kober, Dr. Alice, 214, 216, 218
Ktistopoulos, , 218
Lasithi, 122, 123
highlands of, 99
Mountain (Dicte), 104, 120
Libyan Sea, 184
"Linear A" script, 207, 210, 214, 223
"Linear B" script, 193, 197, 198,
199, 200, 207, 210 ff.
London, 25, 72, 80, 172, 178, 195
London Photographic Society, 72
Lubbock, , 84
Ludwig, Emil, 65, 74
tombs of, 156
Lyctus, 79, 104
Lysimachus, 34, 76
Mackenzie, Duncan, 100, 112, 116,
120, 125, 144, 172, 177
Macmillan, George, 119
MacNeice, Louis, 8
Magdalen, Oxford, 87
Mallia, 137, 147, 187
Palace at, 126
Manchester Guardian, The, 87, 88,
Manoli, , 108, 109, 114, 141, 155
Marathon, battle of, 14
M aril i at os, , 133
Mecklenburg, 7, 20, 24, 55
Mcdinet Habou, 162
Mediterranean Sea, 105, 108, 118,
138, 188, 189
Meincke, Louise, 22
Mcincke, Minna, 22, 24, 29, 77
Menelaus, King of Sparta, 8, 12, 13,
14, 17, 18, 42, 60, 183, 200
Menes, 135, 184
Messara, 181, 182, 185, 194, 195
Minoan Goddess, 146, 148, 174, 183
Early, 130, 139, 185
Middle, 130, 139, 152, 185, 186
Third Middle, 153
Late, 130, 139, 152, 187, 197, 223
Minoan Priest King, 159, 167, 174,
Minos, King, 79, 82, 98, 100, 105 ff.,
113, 116, 118, 121, 122, 124,
126, 132, 147, 158, 168, 179,
Minos, Bull of, 116, 129, 142, 147-
148, 154, 174
Minos, Palace of (Knossos), 82, 85,
105, 112, 113, 118, 119, 120,
126-127, 132, 133, 136, 137,
142, 147, 148, 150, 151, 155 ff.,
172, 173, 175, 179, 192, 211
Central Court, 158, 159, 174, 194
Domestic quarters, 151, 156, 159
Grand Staircase, 127, 159, 160,
161, 164, 173
Great Court, 159, 162
Hall of the Colonnades, 163
Hall of the Double Axes, 128,
Megaron, 113, 163
Northeast Bastion, 164
North Portico, 156, 167
Propylaeum Hall, 155, 156, 157
Theatral Area, 167
Throne Room, 115, 132, 146, 162,
165, 166, 167
Minotaur, the, 98, 105, 106, 117,
118, 148, 168, 192
Mirage Oriental, Le, 96
Mokhlos, 185, 187
Monthly Review, 121
Moses, 118, 121
Mountains. See under individual
Murray [Professor Gilbert], 14
Murray [publisher], 71
Mycenae, 4 ff., 8, 13, 17, 18, 27, 39,
40, 41, 42 ff., 50 ff., 69, 70, 71,
73, 76, 78, 79, 82, 83, 93, 99,
110, 111, 112, 117, 118, 126,
128, 135, 136, 138, 139, 158,
173, 189, 190, 193, 196 ff., 211,
Acropolis, 44, 45, 46, 50, 53, 56,
58, 64, 106, 190, 196, 197
Citadel (see Acropolis), 198
Lion Gate, 6, 44, 46, 47, 48, 58,
59, 66, 67, 74, 93, 126, 190,
Postern Gate, 59, 66
Rooms of Palace, 60-61
Underground cistern, 59
Walls ("Cyclopean"), 13, 43, 45,
46, 47, 58, 66
Mycenae, 49, 71
Mycenae and Tiryns, 49, 57, 193
Myres, Sir John, 79, 84, 94, 96, 97,
178, 213, 215
Nash Mills, Hemel Hempstead, 84
Nauplia, 39, 69
Nausikaa, 165, 191
Neiderhoffer, , 21
Nestor, 16, 17, 60, 213, 215, 220
Cup of, 52, 67
New Corinth, 3
New University Museum, Oxford,
Newberry, Professor Percy, 184
Newton, , 92, 93
Valley of, 98, 184
Nilsson, Professor, 146
Novum Ilium, 31
Numa Pompilius, 118
Odysseus, 8, 9, 16, 17, 52, 71, 82,
102, 165, 191, 199
Castle of (Ithaca), 27
Odyssey, 8, 9, 11, 16, 17 ff., 27, 60,
71, 77, 79, 82, 103, 191, 199,
Olympiad, First, 9
Orchomenos, 13, 68, 76, 79, 139,
Oxford, 85, 87, 88, 89, 92, 93, 94,
95, 96, 143
Oxford University Press, 170
Palace of Ilios (lliou Melathron
Schliemann's house in Athens),
Palace of Minos, 133, 139, 141, 144,
160, 162, 167, 172, 173
Palaikastro, 134, 185
Papadimitriou, Dr. John, 196, 202,
203, 204, 206, 207, 223
Paris (city of), 25, 27, 28, 86
Paris (Alexander), 8, 12, 13, 14
Parnon, Mount, 61
Pasiphae, 105, 106
Patroclus, 16, 206
Pausanias, 43, 44, 45, 46, 51, 54, 57,
59, 64, 70, 73, 76, 201, 205
Pelasgian Wall, 97
Peloponnese, 27, 39, 41, 61, 100
Pendlebury, John, 133, 145, 165,
167, 176, 178, 183, 185, 186,
187, 188, 189
Penelope, 27, 82
Penrose (architect), 80
Perseia, 43, 46, 59, 198
Petrie, , 122, 132, 135
Phaeacia, 165, 192
Phaestos, 125, 133, 134, 137, 147,
152, 172, 181 ff., 187, 194
Pitt-Rivers, , 32, 84
Plataea, Battle of, 70
Pompeii, 21, 81
Priam, 8, 11, 16, 17, 30 ff., 200
Treasure of, 51, 73, 74, 78
"Prodger," 88, 89, 92, 155, 176
Proteus, 43, 70
Psychro, 100, 122, 124
Pylos, 16, 197, 199, 211, 213, 216,
219, 220, 221, 223, 224
Pyramids of Egypt, 57
Pyramid of Snofru, 102
Quien, F. C., 23
Ragusa, 87, 88, 91, 92, 94, 97, 98
Harnesses III, 136
Rhea, 104, 120, 121, 126, 146
Rieu, E. V., 8, 17
Rise of the Greek Epic, 14
Rodenwaldt, , 65
Rosetta Stone, 211
Royal Academy, 72
Royal Society, 72, 84, 130
Ruskin, [John], 94
Sacramento City, 26
St. Petersburg, 24, 25, 28
Gulf of, 3
Sayce, A. H., 177
Scamander (river), 19, 30, 75
Schliemann, Heinrich, 6, 11, 20 ff.,
30 ff., 44 ff., 58, 61 ff., 66, 68,
69 ff., 83, 89, 90, 93, 99, 103,
111, 114, 116, 117, 118, 128,
135, 139, 158, 162, 183, 192,
193, 196, 198, 202, 205, 207,
Schliemann, Louis, 26
Schliemann, Sophia (born Engastro-
menos), 28, 29, 31, 36, 37, 39,
40, 46, 47, 48, 54, 71, 72, 77,
Schliemann, the elder, 20, 21
Schliemann of Troy, 74
Schroder, B. H. & Co., 23, 24
Schroder, John Henry & Co,, 31
Schuchhardt, , 40, 63
Scott, C. P., 87
Scripta Minoa, 145, 210, 213, 215
Seager, R. B., 126, 133, 134
Shaft graves, Mycenae, 48 ff., 58,
62 ff., 72, 93, 111-112, 116,
117, 135, 139, 162, 190, 196 ff.
Sinuhe, Story of, 208, 209
Sligo, Lord, 45
Sparta, 8, 12, 17
Stamatakis, ephor, 46, 47, 48, 49, 54,
Stillman (journalist), 98
Stubbing*, Frank, 185, 206, 223
Sundwall, , 213
Taverna (home of the de Jongs),
Telemachus, 17, 60
Telamonian Aias, 14, 15, 16, 51
Texel, River, 23
Thebes, 17, 115, 223
Thermopylae, battle of, 14
Theseus, 98, 105, 106, 107, 148,
168, 187, 192
Tholos Tombs, Mycenae ('Treasur-
ies"), 6, 44, 45, 56, 57, 64, 65,
Thucydides, 79, 105, 186
Time and Chance, 84, 87, 133
Times, The [London], 41, 113, 116,
118, 125, 130
Tiryns of die Great Walls, 12, 13,
43, 67, 69, 70, 77, 78, 79, 80,
83, 93, 97, 118, 135, 139, 223
Tradescant, , 94
Trojan Antiquities, 40
Trojan camp, 52
Trojan strata, 32, 33, 34, 75, 76, 77,
Troy, 8ff., 20, 21, 22, 26, 29, 30 ff.,
42, 43, 44, 51, 54, 58, 59, 66,
72, 73 ff., 89, 111, 135, 139,
"Great Tower," 34, 35
Scaean Gate, 19, 20, 33, 35, 36,
Troy, Plain of, 10, 11, 19, 27, 30, 75
Troy, Sack of, 43
Troy, Siege of, 10, 79
Tsountas, , 65
Tutankhamun, Tomb of, 36, 49, 65
Tuthmosis III, 136
Tylor, , 84
Universal History, 20
University Galleries, Oxford, 94
Vale of Evesham, 86
Valley of the Tombs of Kings, 36,
Vapheio Cups, 149-150, 198
Veti Pasha, 45
Venetikos, Alexandras, 181
Venizelos, , 176
Ventris, Michael, 197, 198, 199, 207,
Villa Ariadne, Knossos, 82, 109,
141 ff., 171, 174, 175, 179
Vimpos (Archbishop of Athens), 28
Virchow, Professor Rudolf, 74, 75,
76, 80, 111
von Buhn, Friedrich, 177
von Holstein, Henning, 22
Wace, Professor, 6, 7, 49, 57, 60,
66, 173, 189, 193, 196, 197,
198, 199, 200, 201, 206, 215,
War, Civil (Greek), 3
First World, 86, 172, 178
Second World, 76, 178
South African, 119
Warrior Vase, 67
Warwick Castle, 56
Wendt, , 23
Wheeler, Miss, 134
Wooden Horse, 8
Youlbury (Arthur Evans's Oxford
home), 143, 148, 173, 178
Zara, Mount, 56
Zeus, 10, 11, 12, 19, 66, 79, 82, 98,
99, 102, 104, 105, 118, 119,
120 ff., 126, 131, 146, 181, 183,